Preview: Sky Blue FC at Western New York Flash

SBFC Sky Blue FC

By MC Bousquette
Staff Writer

Sky Blue FC (2-6-4) takes on Western New York Flash (4-5-2) on Sunday, as Sky Blue looks to build off last weekend’s win over Portland Thorns FC. The side has a long way to climb up the NWSL table, and every upcoming match is absolutely essential to claw their way back into a playoff berth.

The Competition:

Offensively, the Western New York Flash are pulling together as the season wears on. Although the Flash will be without striker Sydney Leroux, set to undergo ankle surgery and an absence of up to three months, the offense has enough power to pose a formidable threat to Sky Blue. In accordance with their recent M.O., Amanda Frisbie, Lynn Williams, and Samantha Mewis, along with Elizabeth Eddy, look to batter Sky Blue’s back line.

The Flash are, however, in need of back line reinforcement, which could prove a problem against Sky Blue; they fell 4-2 to the Seattle Reign FC last week. That said, their defensive strength may be enhanced should Whitney Engen take the field.

Sky Blue FC’s Transformation:

After her first appearance with Sky Blue, Sam Kerr looks to be an offensive focal point against her old squad. Kerr should be even more effective with Sky Blue than during her debut now that she’s actually had practice with her new teammates.  Kerr’s synergy with fellow Australian WNT member Caitlin Foord should be another boon for Sky Blue, positioning Kerr to serve as the fulcrum between the back and forward lines. Nadia Nadim will be similarly important on attack; she meshed well with Kerr as they coordinated to penetrate creatively, a critical factor that Sky Blue has been missing.

Goalkeeper Brittany Cameron, who recorded a clean sheet against the Thorns, will need another stellar match against the threatening Flash offense. According to The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta, Sky Blue’s USWNT members Kelley O’Hara and Christie Rampone will be available. It remains unclear whether or not they take the field after a post-World Cup whirlwind of public appearances.

Should Rampone be available, expect her to start in order to shore up the back line, providing needed reinforcement for Cameron. Maya Hayes, who has been effective at left back, may well remain on the defensive line. Expect Coach Jim Gabarra to look hard at shifting O’Hara to midfield after her strong World Cup performance.

The Bottom Line:

Like every upcoming game on Sky Blue’s schedule, this one is a must-win for the side. The Flash won’t be an easy force to stop, however, and it’s very likely that the matchup will be an intensely offensive battle. While Sky Blue has had anything but a steady season, the return of veterans and entry of new players could well be the boost the New Jersey club needs.

Sky Blue FC face Western New York Flash on Sunday, July 19th at 3pm EST in Rochester, NY at Sahlen’s Stadium.