August 15, 2011 by
John Wingspread Howell
The WNY Flash have claimed the WPS regular season title and will host the championship game on August 27th.
Pundits have been saying it all season: on paper Western New York Flash is the world’s best women’s club soccer side, bar none. Sunday evening, the Flash earned the honor for now, by taking the regular season championship of the world’s best women’s league, defeating The Atlanta Beat 2-0 in front of more than 5,000 fans on a rainy night in Sahlen’s Stadium.
Last place Atlanta came to play, however, containing a legendary front line to two goals while frustrating four times as many good attempts. The Flash will have to play better to win the championship match when they next take the pitch, at home, on August 27th.
Despite beating each WPS club at least once, and losing only to Philadelphia, it would be foolish for anyone to assume the Flash will waltz to the overall championship.
By virtue of winning the regular season championship, the Flash will “enjoy” a quirk of the WPS playoff format—a double bye and a guaranteed appearance in the championship match, with home field advantage. So while the Flash get a two week break, their opponents will have played one or two elimination games. As the opposition get sharper, the Flash will have to work hard to stay sharp and focused.
That is especially challenging since the Flash’s current starting lineup still hasn’t had an opportunity to gel completely, especially on the front line. Their starting front line at the close of the season is the holy trinity of Women’s soccer today: Brazilian phenom Marta on the left, Canada’s best, Christine Sinclair, the league leader in goals and assists coming into the final week, at center, and the newest United States weapon, Alex Morgan on the right.
No other front line in the world, including national teams, can match this one, and while World Cup preparation and play prevented them from being together consistently for their club team, since the Cup they have started to get their rhythm.
The operative term is started. Perhaps no WPS club suffered more from the disruption of the World Cup than the Flash. While some or all of the eight internationals on the Flash roster were out of the lineup, the club suffered both of its two defeats and two of its three draws. Read the rest of this entry →