May 29, 2011

WPS Sunday: Western New York at Philadelphia

Western New York Flash at Philadelphia Independence (6 pm eastern, Sunday)
Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Independence (2-1-2)
Coach: Paul Riley
Goalkeepers: N. Barnhart, V. Henderson.
Defenders: K. McNeill, N. Krzysik, L. Robinson, H. Magnusdottir, E. Johnson.
Midfielders: L. Lindsey, M. Rapinoe, T. DiMartino, S. Farrelly, J. Buczkowski, J. Lohman.
Forwards: T. Kai, A. Rodriguez, L. Sanderson, L. del Rio, D. Adams.
Not active: A. Falk (injured), R. Jones, L. Barnes, L. Fowlkes, V. Boquete, G. DiMartino.

Western New York Flash (5-0-1)
Coach: Aaran Lines
Goalkeepers: A. Harris, B. Cameron.
Defenders: W. Engen, A. Riley, K. Wilson, G. Lewandowski.
Midfielders: C. Seger, Y. Averbuch, B. Edwards, B. Bock, M. Zerboni, Maurine, B. Goebel.
Forwards: Marta, A. Morgan, C. Sinclair, G. Davidson.
Not active: C. Chapman (injured), A. Bowers, K. Brandao, A. Sahlen, K. Fountain.

Western New York shrugged off the challenge of magicJack a week ago. This week's challenger, the Philadelphia Independence, could offer some pretty stiff competition however.

While the Flash have been the dominant team in WPS so far, they have not been nearly as potent on the road, where they have posted a narrow win over Boston and a tie in Atlanta. So when Marta and company travel to Chester, Pennsylvania to face the third place Independence, they had better not take the task lightly.

This will only be Philadelphia's second home match of the year. After starting slowly, the Independence have reeled off seven points in their last three contests and look to keep pace with second place magicJack.

Philadelphia has a strong offense and have yet to be shut out this season. Tasha Kai and Tina DiMartino have two goals each this season and striker Amy Rodriguez is always a threat with her speed. The Independence have a deep and talented midfield, led by USWNT players Lori Lindsey and Megan Rapinoe.

Defense might potentially be Philadelphia's weak point and they have given up more than a goal per game. Nicole Barnhart is the Independence starter in the net.

If Philly's offense is strong, Western New York's is nearly unstoppable. Just six games into the season and the Flash already have five players with two or more goals. Christine Sinclair leads the Flash with four goals, Caroline Seger has three, and McCall Zerboni, Alex Morgan, and Marta have two each. About the best way to stop WNY is to not allow their midfielders to link up with their talented front line, but there is just so much speed to contend with, that is not an easy task to accomplish.

Defensively, the Flash may be missing Candace Chapman, who is listed as injured. If that is the case, Gina Lewandowski may be asked to step into center back as a starter tonight. The Flash won last week without the globetrotting Ali Riley, who should return for this match.

Ashlyn Harris came up with a couple of big saves on Ella Masar last week and has posted two shutouts so far in the 2011 campaign.

This match should be a stern test on the road for the league leading Flash. A victory here cements their hold on first place, with two home matches upcoming.