May 5, 2011

WPS Friday Night - Sky Blue FC at Western New York Flash

Sky Blue FC at Western New York Flash (7:30 pm eastern, Friday)
Sahlen Stadium, Rochester, New York.

Western New York Flash (2-0-1)
Coach: Aaran Lines
Tentative Roster:
Goalkeepers: Ashlyn Harris, Brittany Cameron.
Defenders: Ali Riley, Whitney Engen, Candace Chapman, Kandace Wilson, Julianne Sitch.
Midfielders: Caroline Seger, Becky Edwards, Brittany Bock, Beverly Goebel, McCall Zerboni.
Forwards: Marta, Christine Sinclair, Alex Morgan, Gemma Davison, Kelly Parker, Kaley Fountain.

Sky Blue FC (0-2-1)
Coach: Jim Gabarra
Tentative Roster:
Goalkeepers: Jen Branam, Karen Bardsley.
Defenders: Carrie Dew, Anita Asante, Danielle Johnson, Brittany Taylor, Kendall Fletcher.
Midfielders: Carolyn Blank, Tobin Heath, Heather O'Reilly, Allie Long, Theresa Sjögran, Angie Kerr.
Forwards: Eniola Aluko, Laura Kalmari, Casey Nogueira.

In the first Friday match of the season, the unbeaten Western New York Flash will host winless Sky Blue FC at Sahlen Stadium.

The Flash head into the match in sole possession of first place with seven points, just one point ahead of Boston and magicJack. They will hope to continue their offensive success this week against Sky Blue. Christine Sinclair, fresh off of WPS Player of the Week honors, leads the league in scoring with four goals and has scored in each of the Flashes' three matches.

The Flash were equally impressive defensively last weekend, with Ashlyn Harris posting her first shutout of the season against Atlanta. Harris is vying to become the third goalkeeper for the USWNT team heading to Germany in June.

Sky Blue, on the other hand, are in a horrendous scoring drought, now spanning five halves of soccer. Their only goals this season came in the first half of their season opener and coach Jim Gabarra must find an answer quickly.

Sky Blue had some success in that opener when defender Brittany Taylor was able to get forward to threaten Philly's flanks and one would think that might be part of the solution. They also need to get Eni Aluko, Laura Kalmari, and Casey Nogueira untracked...and to cut down on their offside calls. They were whistled for that six times in last week's loss to Boston.

SBFC has a fine group of midfielders, including USWNT players Tobin Heath and Heather O'Reilly, Swedish National Team veteran Therese Sjögran, plus Allie Long and Carolyn Blank. This is one area where Sky Blue must press WNY, since the Flash normally go with a three forward formation and depend on their outside defenders to provide offense. It will be incumbent upon O'Reilly, Sjögran, and Long to keep Kandace Wilson and Ali Riley in check before they become a problem for Sky Blue's outside defense.

Sky Blue really needs to turn things around. If they can get some points out of this match, they have next week off before playing two consecutive home matches in late May. Western New York would like to continue the success they had against the Beat last weekend and the scoring which has come very easily so far this season.

UPDATE: The WPS roster report came out after the above story was posted. The following are players not rostered for tonight's match between Western New York and Sky Blue per the WPS Roster Report:

Not active:
Sky Blue - Kendall Fletcher (injury), Lindsey Johnson (injury), Kristin Arnold, Michelle Wenino, Erin Guthrie, Alyssa Mautz, Jennie Clark.

Western New York - Alex Sahlen (injury), Kaley Fountain (injury), Christine Sinclair, Yael Averbuch.