After the drama and pageantry of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, women's soccer is as hot as it has ever been. So why wait to fill your fix? What if I told you that, on the same pitch, you can see some of the world's best from the tourney in Germany right here in our own backyard? It's no joke.
On Wednesday night, from Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, N.Y., you'll have just chance, when magicJack of Boca Raton, Fla., heads up to Western New York to take on the Flash in Women's Professional Soccer action (live, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Soccer). Normally, you'd say the headliner of world-class footballers would be the Flash's five-time reigning FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, Marta, but when magicJack is in town, all the focus shifts to New York's own Abby Wambach.
Christie Rampone and Hope Solo of magicJack will not be available after both played every minute of the United States' six matches in the World Cup. Shannon Boxx, the US midfielder (also with magicJack) - who played arguably her best match of the tournament in the final against Japan - is questionable for the match.
But it's not like magicJack (5-4-1) will lacking stars. One of the more underrated and underappreciated US players, Megan Rapinoe, is expected to suit up; Lisa De Vanna, the face of the upstart Australian national team, is also expected to dress; US national team defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who served as a worthy replacement on the backline against France in the semifinals, will dress; Canada's Sophie Schmidt will also be in uniform; and even without Solo in the nets, WPS's fourth-place club's backup keeper is a US national teamer - Jillian Loyden.
So you may be thinking to yourself, "Dang, that's one heck of a roster magicJack has." You are right. But the Flash, believe it or not, has a roster that far outweighs that of not only magicJack but all of WPS.
While the Flash will be without World Cuppers Caroline Seger (who was on the surprising Swedish national team, injured for this match) and Brazil's Maurine (who joined WNY per the request of superstar striker Marta and is non-rostered on Wednesday), they still have a bevy of talent.
First and foremost, the Marta factor is one like no other in any sport - men or women. Yeah, Marta and Brazil were bounced in the quarters of the World Cup, but under the heavily-organized programs in WPS, Marta has won consecutive Golden Boot and MVP awards, guiding her clubs WPS regular season titles two years running. The 25-year-old icon is eyeing another first place finish in 2011, with Western New York (7-2-2, 23 pts) currently in second place, only four points behind Philadelphia Independence (but with two games in hand).
Still, soccer is a team sport. Canadian national teamers Christine Sinclair and Candace Chapman, New Zealand's Ali Riley (WPS Rookie of the Year in 2010) and the US's Alex Morgan (likely WPS Rookie of the Year in 2011) are a great supporting cast. (Sinclair, Chapman and Riley, along with Kandace Wilson, Becky Edwards and Brittany Cameron, were all alongside Marta at FC Gold Pride when they won the title last year.)
Needless to say, it's a heavily-anticipated match. For those of you in the Western New York area hoping to snag a seat for this contest, not so fast. Sahlen's Stadium seats 13,500 and it is completely sold out. However, if you aren't able to get to the match, you can now view it on TV. Thanks to the overwhelming response by women's soccer fans across the Twitter galaxy, FOX Soccer has picked up the match and will be broadcasting live.
Prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff, all the World Cup players - 15 in total, if all are in the stadium - will be honored. Surely whoever is in the starting XI will get an adrenaline boost and help in providing the sellout crowd with a World Cup-esque performance. Frankly, anything close that level of play will be better than advertised.
Of course, this time around, if a last-second Rapinoe-to-Wambach goal to help defeat a Marta-led club where to happen, it would the crowd leaving with a sour taste in their collective mouths. But it would also be a great way to reward fans whose enthusiasm pushed the match onto FOX Soccer.