Scoreless Tie Keeps Freedom in Second
Freedom 0, Red Stars 0
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Entering yesterday, the Washington Freedom led Women's Professional Soccer not just in goals scored (16) but also in goals allowed (18). In front of 5,049 at RFK Stadium, however, Washington played to an uncharacteristic 0-0 tie with the Chicago Red Stars.
The Freedom (3-3-4, 13 points) reached the halfway point of the inaugural WPS season and, despite the tie, maintained its narrow hold on second place in the league. The Red Stars (2-3-5, 11 points) moved into a four-way tie for third place, two points behind the Freedom.
An apparent goal by Washington's Abby Wambach in the 51st minute was waved off when she was whistled offside. Another chance failed when Allie Long's shot from the top of the box was weakly struck and easily picked up by Chicago goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson.
When reminded of the shot after the game, Long offered a pained sigh and said, "I don't know, it was wide open, but the touch was too close to me and I couldn't get a full swing on it." For the game, the Freedom outshot the Red Stars, 8-1.
The scoreless game was the first shutout for Washington, playing with a reinforced back line, but also the first time its prolific offense had been unable to score since the season opener against Los Angeles.
Joining the Freedom was defender Ali Krieger, a U.S. national team pool player who joined the team for the first time this season due to her commitment to a team in Frankfurt, Germany.
Long said Krieger brings to the team an element the Freedom has been lacking.
"She's been playing overseas and she has that intensity and toughness that I think when you go overseas you develop," Long said.
Krieger, who arrived from Germany on Monday, agreed that her European experience was an asset for the Freedom and that slow play, which seemed to be a problem yesterday, wouldn't be tolerated in Germany.
"That's what I've learned in Frankfurt, it's always 1-2 touch play," she said. "You get yelled at if you don't play quick enough. I'm used to letting the ball go, not really hanging on to it too much."
The Freedom also welcomed the return of midfielder Lori Lindsey, who missed last week's game at Los Angeles and was questionable for yesterday's game.
The match, while scoreless, wasn't without its drama. The Red Stars lost midfielder Karen Carney in the 60th minute when she received a straight red card for sliding and taking out the legs of Wambach. Wambach, who missed the Olympics last summer with a broken leg, returned on the next dead ball.
It was a physical game across the board -- two other Red Stars players received yellow cards -- resulting in many aggressive scoring opportunities in the first half. The teams, though, watched their chances sail high, roll wide and, in the case of a 28th-minute shot by Chicago's Megan Rapinoe, ricochet off the crossbar.
The game was part of the second of three doubleheaders with D.C. United that the Freedom will play this season. Washington won, 2-1, to Sky Blue on May 23 and will play Saint Louis Athletica on July 18 at RFK. Athletica is also the next team up for the Freedom. Washington will visit Saint Louis on Saturday as the second half of the season begins.