Washington Freedom Wins Crucial Home Game 2-0 Against Chicago Red
Washington Freedom moved three points closer to the final playoff spot in Women's Professional Soccer with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars tonight at the Maryland SoccerPlex in front of 2,511 fans. Second-half goals from Abby Wambach and Cat Whitehill extended Washington Freedom's unbeaten streak to four games, with just three games remaining in Freedom's WPS regular season.
"Tonight was a huge win for us," said Freedom striker Abby Wambach. "You always want to be peaking towards the end of the season, but you have to make the playoffs in order to make the actual peak worth it."
Chicago had the better of the play in the first half, with their closest chances coming off of a Cristiane free kick from 22 yards out that went over the crossbar in the 28thminute, and a breakaway by Ella Masar in the 45thminute that was smothered by Freedom goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
"Chicago was clearly the better team in the first half," said Freedom coach Jim Gabarra. "Going into the second half, we asked the players to battle and string some passes together."
After halftime, Wambach found the back of the net in the 48thminute on a deflected shot from just outside the box after a pass from Sarah Huffman. Wambach's tenth goal of the season pushed her into a tie with Boston's Kelly Smith for third in the league.
Freedom doubled their lead seven minutes later when Whitehill headed Huffman's corner kick for her first goal of the season.
The Red Stars, already limited to 15 players in their traveling party by injuries, were bitten again just 16 minutes in when Jessica McDonald had to be subbed off. Veteran Brazilian midfielder Formiga also was removed due to injury in the 63rd minute.
Rookie Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris had another impressive game, and now has three shutouts in her last four matches, the only blemish coming on a Whitehill own goal at Sky Blue FC two matches ago.
"Every time I step on the field, it's business," said Harris, who faced eight shots and made five saves. "It was a huge game for us. We are battling for fourth place, and to not give up any goals is big for our defensive unit. It is a confidence builder.
"We feel very secure with her in there," said Gabarra. "She's very quick off her line and she's caught everything that's been in her six, and even under pressure, she's made saves when she's had to."
Freedom (6-8-7) now has 25 points after 21 matches, while Sky Blue FC, their nearest competitor for the fourth and final playoff spot, have only played 19 games and earned 22 points.
The Red Stars (5-10-6) are now four points out of the playoff picture, but finish their year with three home games, albeit against a trio of the league's top teams in FC Gold Pride, Philadelphia, and Freedom.
Freedom next host Sky Blue FC on PUMA's Project Pink night at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday, August 28.
"This season isn't over by any means and you have to play well for the next couple of games in order to get into the playoffs," said Wambach. "I feel good about the rest of our season."
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Women's Professional Soccer Stories from August 19, 2010
- Washington Freedom Wins Crucial Home Game 2-0 Against Chicago Red - magicJack
- Injuries Mount as Chicago Red Stars Fall to Washington, 2-0 - Chicago Red Stars
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