July 20, 2011

Flash Sink magicJack in World Cup Homecoming

On a night when World Cup players from six different countries were honored before 15,404 fans, the Western New York Flash defeated magicJack 3-1 at Sahlen Stadium in Rochester, New York. Canadian National Team star Christine Sinclair scored two goals and assisted on the third to lead the Flash to victory. It was the largest single-game crowd in WPS history.

While all of the players that participated in the World Cup were honored, magicJack striker Abby Wambach clearly took center stage. The Rochester native received the key to the city and it was proclaimed Abby Wambach Day. Wambach was dressed in her magicJack uniform, but did not play in the game, still nursing an Achilles heel injury which has plagued her for much of the year.

The visitors from Florida nearly broke on top in the sixth minute. Christen Press had an open shot from 10 yards, but she put her shot too close to Ashlyn Harris and the save was made by the Flash keeper.

Western New York got the first goal of the match. Candace Chapman sent a long free kick forward from just outside her penalty area. Becky Edwards flicked the ball forward with a header and Sinclair timed her run perfectly getting behind the defense. Sinclair dribbled around magicJack goalkeeper Jill Loyden and rolled the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead.

MagicJack was able to draw even just before the intermission. In the 40th minute, Nikki Washington sent a long cross toward the box. With Flash defender Candace Chapman in front of her, Ella Masar elected to one-time it. She hit a left-footed shot over her shoulder, over Chapman, and finally over Harris to tie the match.

The Flash tried to regain the lead to start the second half. Marta's shot was blocked by defender Tina Ellertson, but Beverly Goebel was on the rebound and only a point-blank save by Loyden kept the score tied at one.

But magicJack wasn't so fortunate five minutes later. Marta sent the ball into space for Christine Sinclair, but Tina Ellertson was able to get there first. As the two battled for the ball, Ellertson fell down and Sinclair dribbled in alone on Loyden, shooting just inside the left post as a diving Loyden was only able to get a glove on it, but not stop it. It was Sinclair's eighth goal of the season, tying her with Tasha Kai for the league lead, and the Flash led 2-1.

The Flash closed the door on magicJack in the 69th minute. Goebel sent the ball ahead to Sinclair, who chased the ball down just to the left of the penalty area. She cut back to the inside, beating magicJack defender Nikki Marshall, and then sent a cross to the right edge of the six. McCall Zerboni was waiting there unmarked and she placed her header behind Loyden, who was rushing across to cut off the angle.

MagicJack again struggled with a three-back formation as the Flash found open lanes to play the ball in behind their defense. Ali Riley got in behind the defense later in the match and only another good save by Loyden kept the game reasonably close. Later, Loyden made a diving save on Alex Morgan's drive from just outside the eighteen. The final score was 3-1 for Western New York.

The Flash move to within one point of first place Philadelphia. They now sport a 8-2-2 record and they will now travel to Boston to meet the Breakers on Sunday. MagicJack falls to 5-5-1 and are in a fierce battle for the final two playoff berths. They will now head to Atlanta to play the Beat on Saturday evening.