Flash, Spirit kick off the second week of the NWSL
Western New York Flash (0-1-0) at Washington Spirit (0-0-1)
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 7:00 EDT
Maryland SoccerPlex Stadium, Germantown, Maryland
The Washington Spirit will kick off the second week of the NWSL with their first home game of the season, hosting the Western New York Flash today (Saturday, April 20) at the Maryland SoccerPlex. The match kicks off at 7 pm (EDT).
The Spirit come into the match off last weekend’s 1-1 tie against the Boston Breakers, while the Flash will try to climb out of 8th place after being the only NWSL team to lose a match on opening weekend, a 1-0 defeat to Sky Blue FC.
The Washington defense held strong in the opener against Boston, disrupting the Breakers’ passing game and helping to take some of the pressure off young Spirit forward Tiffany McCarty. In the 15th minute, the Spirit landed their first NWSL goal off of a 6-yard header by McCarty. Washington created many other scoring opportunities throughout the match but failed to put any away. Diana Matheson, lined up as an attacking mid/withdrawn forward, played all over the field and contributed a few long range shots on goal to complement McCarty’s many efforts up top. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris had an very impressive game against a relentless Breakers attack, making 7 saves on the day. Despite her efforts, the Breakers scored the equalizing goal off a 10-yard far corner shot by U.S National Team member Sydney Leroux, coming just minutes after a nasty collision between Leroux and Harris. Overall, Washington showed as a very defensively oriented team and will work on building up their midfield and young energetic forwards through the remainder of the season.
Washington’s back line will have their work cut out for them on Saturday, trying to contain Flash striker Abby Wambach. The Spirit midfielders and forwards will also face difficulty trying to beat the Flash’s rookie keeper Adrianna Franch. Against Sky Blue FC last week, Franch had an exceptional match (and was named NWSL Player of the Week by the editors of The Equalizer), with seven second-half saves, many at close range. The difference in the match for Sky Blue came in the 42nd minute, when a Danesha Adams corner kick sent into a mass of players in the box deflected off the Flash’s McCall Zerboni and past Franch for an own goal. The dagger came in the waning seconds of second-half stoppage time, when Wambach found herself in front of an open net but sent what would have been the tying shot just over the crossbar. Despite the lackluster performance last weekend, however, Western New should be an offensive force this season with the supporting cast of attackers around Wambach, particularly if they improve on finishing set pieces. It promises to be a hard fought battle all day between these two teams, with the spotlight on the matchup between the Flash attack and the Spirit defense.
Both teams played as the away side in games last week that drew crowds of over 2,600 people, including a 2,634-ticket sellout at the Breakers’ Dilboy Stadium last Saturday night. The Spirit hopes to see a similar crowd at the SoccerPlex to kick off their home campaign. All Spirit games will be streamed via YouTube and will be archived a few days later on NWSL’s YouTube page.
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