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Sports Then and Now



WNY Flash Claim WPS Regular Season Title 5

Posted on 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 →

USA Women’s Soccer Team Pulls Off a Miracle 8

Posted on July 10, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Abby Wambach's improbable goal in the final seconds set up the USA for victory over Brazil.

On the 12th anniversary of the biggest victory in United States women’s soccer history, the USA women’s squad pulled off a miracle that may eventually prove to be just as significant as their 1999 World Cup win over China.

For most of their quarterfinal matchup against Brazil it looked like another nail was being put in the coffin of soccer in the United States.

After the U.S. men’s team was the victim of awful officiating during the 2010 World Cup and FIFA by-passed the U.S. for hosting a future World Cup, the way it appeared the U.S. women were going to lose to Brazil would serve as another blow against keeping the casual fan interested in soccer.

The U.S. scored early following a defensive miscue by Brazil and maintained that lead midway through the second half.

Then as Brazil superstar Marta and American Rachel Buehler raced with their arms seemingly connected into the box, Marta fell to the ground and earned a penalty kick. While it wasn’t shocking that a penalty was called, it was a bit surprising that Buehler was given a red card considering that both players were going for the ball and there didn’t appear to be any malicious intent.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, what transpired next was even more frustrating for fans of the USA. Read the rest of this entry →

Flash Forward: Will WNY Collapse in WPS? 2

Posted on June 24, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Will Marta and the Flash be able to turn things around when they return from the World Cup?

Because the WNY Flash has a month off for the World Cup break after losing their first match this season, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the significance of that loss.

The loss occurred at home, 1-0 against Philadelphia, with the only goal being scored near the end of the game. The goal was scored by Danesha Adams, who has not had much playing time in Philly, or on her previous WPS clubs. She had just returned from a loan-out to the W League to sharpen her game. She was wide open close to the right side of the goal (keeper’s left).

Adams was close enough to absolve Flash keeper Ashlyn Harris of responsibility. Responsibility goes to a defense that let Adams get that close. Harris has let a few go through that shouldn’t have, especially early in the season, but she’s grown into her starting role. And when her club has lapsed on defense, Harris has saved their necks more than once. She remains the league’s leading goaltender with a 1.14 goals against average.

The loss was the continuation, even acceleration, of a slide that began with a tie the previous week against New Jersey, when the Flash blew a 2-0 halftime lead, including allowing a goal in the 89th minute by Sky Blue’s Casey Nogueira. Read the rest of this entry →

Atlanta GM McGee Explains Why WPS Is Still The Best 3

Posted on January 29, 2010 by Todd Civin
stadium948x569-2.ashx

In the wake of a rather gray day in the brief history of the WPS, following yesterday’s announcement of the league’s decision to discontinue operation of the Los Angeles Sol, Atlanta Beat General Manager Shawn McGee was quick to remind fans of the WPS a few very important lessons.

Lessons like ‘When you fall down you need to brush yourself off and get back up’ and ‘Every problem has a soft spot’ and everyone’s favorite, ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ resonated from McGee’s message during a phone interview this afternoon. Read the rest of this entry →

Back to the Golden State: Michelle Enyeart Talks WPS 1

Posted on January 27, 2010 by Lauren Salter
Forward Michelle Enyeart

Forward Michelle Enyeart grew up in a small town that isn’t exactly known to be a soccer hotbed.

In fact, Hemet, CA is hardly known at all.

But this small “city” located roughly between Palm Springs and San Diego has produced a name that is known to soccer experts and soccer fans across the country.

Enyeart has a soccer resume that is both extensive and impressive.

Some of the major points in her career include playing with the nationally-ranked Laguna Hills Eclipse Soccer Club, competing with the youth national teams (U-23, U-20, U-19, U-16), and participating in a full national team training camp. Read the rest of this entry →

As Marta Wins Fourth FIFA Award Brazilian Community Is Abuzz 6

Posted on December 23, 2009 by Todd Civin
Players from Brazil's National Team including Marta, Christiana and Fabiana have impacted WPS play.

Players from Brazil's National Team including Marta, Cristiane and Fabiana have impacted WPS play.

With the announcement by FIFA naming Brazil’s Marta as their Women’s World Player of the Year for the fourth consecutive year, I hurried to my virtual Rolo-dex in an attempt to try to score a Brazilian perspective on the award.

Amongst the thousands of names which have found their way into my growing list of connections, I didn’t expect to find too many who make the land of Carnival their home since the Brazilian population in my rural town of Winchendon, MA can probably be counted on one hand.

Then I remembered a gentleman I had met at my first WPS Breaker’s game last spring. I tried desperately to jump start my memory to recall his name. After scurrying through every letter from A to R, I came upon the name “Marcus Santos” and knew I had struck pay dirt.

Santos and his band Bloco Afro-Brazil, had entertained the crowd of Breakers fans playing their Brazilian styled beat from the end zone of historic Harvard Stadium. They added a Brazilian flare to the game reminiscent of the World Cup and created an excitement which would become synonymous with Breaker brand soccer as the season went on. Read the rest of this entry →

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