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Sports Then and Now

With Each Game, WNY Flash Get Brighter, Blinding The Opposition

Posted on May 07, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Alex Morgan has emerged as a star for the newest team in WPS.

It only took four minutes for the expansion team from Women’s Professional Soccer’s smallest market to score on the defensively strong former league champions Sky Blue FC from New Jersey. Swedish international Caroline Seger tallied her second goal of the season, fed by rookie sensation, Alex Morgan. Later in the half, it was Morgan who would score on a pass by Brazilian superstar, Marta. Late in the second half, the same combination would reverse roles and Morgan got the goal, taking the Western New York Flash into half time with a 2-0 lead.

In fact, the Marta-Morgan combination has become very effective in the past 2 and a half games they’ve played together. On Sunday, at the Flash home opener, Morgan scored her first WPS goal assisted by Marta.

The two make an interesting tandem in that 25 year old Marta is well established as the world’s best woman ever to play the game, while Morgan is just beginning to look like she could be the next Marta, or at least the next Mia Hamm, as the best U.S. player to come along since Hamm dominated the world and the women’s game.

The visitors made the game interesting for a few minutes by closing to within one goal after substitute Adriana scored on a spectacular high arching shot within a minute of entering the pitch. But it wasn’t long before the M & M attack returned the game to a safe lead for the home team.

So after two and a half games, Marta stands with 3 goals and four assists. Caroline Seger has scored twice, Morgan twice, Gemma Davison once and WPS Player of the Week (last week) Christine Sinclair has two.

Speaking of Sinclair, the 3-1 drubbing of defensive Sky Blue is even more impressive when Sinclair’s absence is factored in. The most prolific scorer in Canadian national team history was in Montreal with her national side and thus unable to join the Flash for this match.

Attendance was noticeably less than the home opener on Sunday. This might be a concern to the Flash front office since several of their home games are Friday evening contests. Fortunately, team owner Joe  Sahlen doesn’t need the team to pay for itself. He has costed it out as part of the marketing budget for his company, Sahlen Packing Company.

Still, it seems to be a well-kept secret in Western and Central New York that the world’s best women’s soccer team is within a 90 minute drive or less of any place in the region it claims to represent. They put on an impressive and entertaining show, not only in terms of individual soccer skills on display, but also a well-coached team effort that seems to do what many coaches in all major sports fail to do more often than not: get their numerous stars to coordinate their efforts and play unselfishly.

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