More after the jump:
I was in Rochester live-blogging the Western New York Flash’s home opener against the Atlanta Beat. You can check out play-by-play and commentary here. Also check out this feature on Christine Sinclair, written by Nell Enriquez. The crowd in Rochester was disappointing for sure, but we’ll see how Friday goes against Sky Blue FC. I expect a better turnout on a Friday night, which should be a better draw than a Sunday.
There were some bright spots in places you would not expect for the Flash. Kelly Parker and McCall Zerboni looked stellar on the right side. Parker was dangerous the entire match and was actually one of the Flash’s best players on the day.
“We train there together and coach was trying to get good combinations together,” Parker said. “It’s important on the outside and I think that he just saw that we clicked this week, so it was a good combination. (Zerboni’s) communication is excellent. It helped me out a lot up top and things went really well.”
I’ll also say this: The media in Rochester was very impressed with the team and seemed enthusiastic about having the squad in town. The high level of play was certainly noted. Check out Jeff DiVeronica’s blog post on the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle‘s match report. Also, here are some highlights.
I pretty much had my say on the off-field issues here in the video, but you can check out Jeff Rusnak’s report here. This is what put the problem over the edge for many media members. Fans are clearly aware of the problem with a lack of publicity. Credit to miamisoccerfan.com for the great photos of the match. And to further extend my point about attendance, there is a real problem with the perception that media should be an extension of PR. That just isn’t true. Do the few people that actually cover this league – including myself – want to see it succeed? Absolutely, without a doubt. That doesn’t mean we can’t be critical. We should be. We have to be. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs and we wouldn’t be serving any purpose.
As for the actual on-field happenings, I got to chat with Philadelphia Head Coach Paul Riley and he said magicJack plays very direct. Christie Rampone looks to find Abby Wambach’s feet and the team plays through Wambach. This week the field at FAU was widened to 66 yards, but it is normally at 75 yards wide for FAU games. Why so narrow now? Nobody knows the answer.
“On that field once you get behind in the game it is tough to get back in the game,” Riley said. “Everything is clogged in the middle.”
Philadelphia came out in a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. Lianne Sanderson sat underneath Tasha Kai and Amy Rodriguez as she so successfully did against Sky Blue FC on opening weekend. Riley was happy with the way his team played and said the game would have been different if Philadelphia had finished. Rodriguez missed two great chances in the opening minutes and Laura Del Rio missed what Riley called “a sitter” in the final minutes. Marian Dalmy played as a right midfielder – not a defender – in magicJack’s 3-4-3 formation. Sarah Huffman played wide left and Shannon Boxx ran the show in the middle. Nikki Marshall, Ella Masar and Wambach featured up top.
Sky Blue FC still can’t find a way to finish even after some nice build-up play. Kelly Smith was effective dropping deeper into the midfield and Alex Scott looked pretty good in an advanced roll for Boston. Alyssa Naeher was pretty untested but made the couple of saves that she needed to make. Eniola Aluko, Casey Nogueira and Laura Kalmari need to pick up the goal scoring load and Therese Sjögran needs to start playing up to her capabilities. A full-strength Tobin Heath on Friday could help energize the midfield.
Boston’s defense held solid again despite a slightly different look. With Scott pushed forward, Rachel Buehler and Ifeoma Dieke paired centrally with Stephanie Cox at left back and Amy LePeilbet at right back. Keelin Winters again looked good in the midfield, but she did blow two very good opportunities that she should have finished in the second half.
Also check out Frank Dell’Apa’s feature on Rachel Buehler.
Other news and notes:
As mentioned in the video, the average WPS attendance after four weeks is 2,746. Check out Jenna Pel’s take on this here.
Random, but why does the U.S. Women’s National Team have a Washington Freedom tent in Florida? That had to be purchased on serious discount.
Jeff DiVeronica takes a harder look at attendance. It should be noted that the cheapest Flash ticket is $13, while the cheapest Rochester Rhinos – an established team with tradition – ticket goes for $10, although that is for a seat behind the goal. The behind the goal section is closed off for Flash games. The comments section there is getting pretty fired up, too.
TOMORROW on SI.com my column will talk about Boston’s win, Alli Lipsher, attendance, defensive midfielders and why there seems to be a true home field advantage in WPS. Check that out midday.
And Nike Women is marketing Kelley O’Hara much more with the upcoming Women’s World Cup. Have a look: