Long, Wambach Lead Freedom to Victory

Monday, July 27, 2009

From News Services

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill., July 26--Allie Long scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute as the Washington Freedom defeated the Chicago Red Stars, 3-2, on Sunday night before a crowd of 5,226.

The loss eliminated the Red Stars (4-8-5) from the Women's Professional Soccer playoff hunt.

Red Stars forward Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring in the 15th minute, the earliest goal in Chicago franchise history. After taking a feed from Carli Lloyd, Rapinoe danced around a Freedom defender and beat goalkeeper Erin McLeod to the right corner of the net for her second goal of the season.

Abby Wambach tied it later in the first half before putting Washington (5-6-5) in front in the 56th minute. It was the second multi-goal effort of the season for Wambach, who recently scored the 100th goal of her international career with the U.S. Women's National Team.

Chicago fought back, knotting the score at 2-2 on a Karen Carney blast in the 69th minute. Australian Heather Garriock, who had entered the game just seconds before, picked up the assist on a cross that found Carney wide open on the right side of the net. Carney drilled a shot back across to the left side of the goal for her second tally on the year.

But it was another second half substitute that would decide the game. In the 89th minute, Freedom midfielder Long broke through a pair of Chicago defenders on the left side of the box and beat Red Stars goalkeeper Caroline Jönsson to her left for the goal, Long's second of the season.

The two teams combined for 36 shots, which has become a hallmark of the rivalry. Jönsson made 11 saves in the match, two shy of her franchise mark which was set in an April 11 draw at Washington. Jönsson's top four save totals of the season have all come against the Freedom.

With the loss, Chicago remains at 17 points with two games remaining in the regular season. Washington moves into a tie with Sky Blue FC for 23 points. Because those two teams still have a head-to-head meeting remaining, the Red Stars have been eliminated from postseason contention.

The Red Stars will host their final home game of the 2009 season on Sunday, Aug. 2, when they welcome the WPS regular season champion Los Angeles Sol.

With the win, the Freedom move into a tie for fourth place with Sky Blue FC. The Freedom's next game will be on Wednesday, July 29, as they host the Boston Breakers at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown at 8 p.m.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company