The Flash (2-2-1) took nearly two weeks off following their 2-1 win against FC Kansas City on May 11th. On Friday, the Flash host Chicago (0-3-2) for the first time in the NWSL, and will hope to record a third consecutive win.
The Flash have greatly improved their performances on the field since Week 3, when they lost to the Boston Breakers. They failed to record a victory until Week 4, when they defeated Sky Blue FC. Their victory was accomplished in great part due to the attacking trio of Abby Wambach, Samantha Kerr and McCall Zerboni. Wambach, the Flash's leading goal scorer with three goals in her last two games, has benefitted from the structure of the team around her.
The back line for WNYF has improved along with their strikers, but at times, their aggressive behavior can be interpreted as a weakness. Their defenders risk earning fouls and conceding free kicks on the back of their charging capabilities. If Chicago can press the back line for an extensive period, then they may be able to force WNY into giving away set pieces.
Chicago continues to experience a turbulent season. It was revealed this week that Leslie Osborne will be sidelined on account of a sprained MCL and it is unclear whether starting keeper Erin McLeod will play after she injured her right hand. With two vital players either sidelined or questionable to play on Friday, Chicago will need to rely on their aggressive and athletic supporting cast. Lydia Vandenbergh is a great asset to the back line but is also strong at pushing the ball and linking up with the midfield. If Vandenbergh can link up plays with Ella Masar, Zakiya Bywaters or Lauren Fowlkes then Chicago may have a chance to record a goal.
Bywaters is fast and can put the defense under pressure by running at them. If she can do this, then Masar can step in and take advantage of open pockets leading into the box and test the Flash's goal. Pressure is what Chicago needs to produce early on in the match in order to put WNYF on their toes.
Western New York Flash Injuries
OUT: Amy Barczuk
Chicago Red Stars Injuries
OUT: Shannon Boxx, Amy LePeilbet, and Leslie Osborne. DOUBTFUL: Erin McLeod
Match Date/Time: Friday May 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm ET
Venue: Sahlen's Stadium, Rochester, New York
Online: WNYF's LiveSport Stream