Washington Freedom drops season opener against Boston Breakers
It wasn't until late last season when the Washington Freedom began to click offensively, mostly behind a finally-healthy Abby Wambach, who had worked back to full form after suffering a broken leg.
On Saturday evening in the opener of the second season of Women's Professional Soccer, the Freedom again showed some early-season rust in the attacking third and had two crucial defensive breakdowns as it fell to the Boston Breakers, 2-1, in front of 3,899 at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.
Playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Wambach up top, Washington (0-1) struggled to put it all together in the attack -- missing the final pass or failing to cap a strong build-up with a quality shot.
The Freedom's best chances came in the final five minutes as it pushed forward more, and Allie Long finished a volley in the 87th minute after Cat Whitehill's long ball was headed back by Wambach to the foot of Long.
"Usually you want to start to hone your system defensively first and then the offense and the attacking third comes last," Wambach said. "Getting everyone on the same page offensively is the most difficult thing to do. So yeah, I think throughout the course of the season we're going to get better at it."
The Breakers (1-0) took the lead in the sixth minute of the match when the Freedom failed to close down a short corner. That allowed veteran Kristine Lilly to take a touch and cross to the far post, and the ball skipped through several defenders and was finished from just a few yards out by forward Lauren Cheney.
Boston doubled its lead in the 19th minute, with Lilly again sparking the attack.
She lofted a ball perfectly over the head of Whitehill that dropped to England star Kelly Smith, and Smith pivoted around and placed the ball to the far post.