July 17, 2011

WPS Preview: Western New York at Sky Blue

Western New York Flash at Sky Blue FC (6 pm eastern, Sunday)
Yurcak Field, Piscataway, New Jersey.

Western New York Flash (6-2-2)
Coach: Aaran Lines
Goalkeepers: A. Harris, B. Cameron
Defenders: A. Riley, W. Engen, C. Chapman, K. Wilson, G. Lewandowski.
Midfielders: Y. Averbuch, B. Edwards, B. Bock, M. Zerboni, R. Moros, B. Goebel, Maurine (questionable).
Forwards: C. Sinclair, Marta (questionable), G. Davison, K. Fountain.
Not active: C. Seger. A. Morgan, A. Bowers, K. Brandao, A. Sahlen.

Sky Blue FC (3-4-4)
Coach: Jim Gabarra
Goalkeepers: J. Branam, K. Bardsley (questionable), K. Arnold.
Defenders: K. Fletcher, C. Dew, A. Asante, B. Taylor, P. Hogewoning, M. Wenino, D. Johnson, S. Gray.
Midfielders: C. Blank, A. Long, A. Kerr, A. Mautz.
Forwards: Adriana, C. Nogueira, L. Kalmari, E. Aluko.
Not active: T. Heath, H. O'Reilly, T. Sjogran, E. Guthrie, L. Johnson (injury).

Once thought to be safely in first place, Western New York now finds themselves seven points behind the Philadelphia Independence. They do have three games in hand right now and they must make the most of them starting this evening in New Jersey. Sky Blue is battling for one of the final two playoff positions with Boston and magicJack.

One of the questions heading into tonight's match is whether Marta and Maurine play. Both were listed as questionable in the WPS roster report for this weekend and are coming off of a tough quarterfinal battle with the US at the World Cup.

Sky Blue has only lost one of their last six matches, but have gained only one point in their last two matches. They have a tough schedule remaining with two games each against Western New York, Philadelphia, and magicJack, with one against Boston. Two of their three wins have come against Atlanta, who they don't play for the remainder of the schedule.

If Marta is back, the Flash will be even more dangerous on the attack with Christine Sinclair and Gemma Davison. And for the first time in nearly a month, their defense is intact with Ali Riley, Kandace Wilson, Candace Chapman, and Whitney Engen. Ashlyn Harris will be in goal for the Flash.

The bad news for Western New York is they still don't have Alex Morgan or Caroline Seger. There have to be some worries among the WNY camp about Seger, who had to miss the final two matches for Sweden with an injury.

One would think that Sky Blue might have to score a couple of goals to come away with any points here. They are still missing three midfielders, Tobin Heath, Heather O'Reilly, and Therese Sjogran. The offense will fall to the foursome of Eni Aluko, Adriana, Laura Kalmari, and Casey Nogueira. Allie Long provides attacking skills from the midfield.

Jen Branam will be the Sky Blue keeper, with an able group in front of her including Kendall Fletcher, Anita Asante, and Brittany Taylor.

This match will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel.