Athletica 3 Freedom 3

 

They’re light on athleticism, they let too many soft goals score, they take silly shots from way too far out and the spacing on offense is about what you’d expect at a tiny tots match, but you know, this Freedom team is really growing on me.  For the second week in a row they gave the fans an entertaining match, a wild and woolly finish and played with heart and great effort throughout.  As a Freedom fan, I felt better watching this one than I have any all season.  And I had that good feeling even when I thought it was going to be a loss.  I think the 4-3-3 works better for this team than any of the incarnations of the 4-4-2 we saw to start the year.  They’re playing Lindsey right behind the forward line which is getting everyone a lot of chances.  She is constantly in the goalmouth, the forwards are staying forward and Sawa is even sneaking into the attacking third with a bit more consistency.  I just have a bit more hope about this team than I did watching the first few outings.  I still think that most of the teams in the league are a lot more talented than the Freedom, and wins will be hard to come by, but at least I feel better that they’re going to put on a good show along the way. 

 

As for Athletica, there is a ton of talent on that field.  I have no idea why they’re not better than they are.  Part of the problem is that they have a player who is not terribly technical playing forward.  I understand the appeal of a nice big target player, and that you don’t need that big target player to dribble a whole lot, but even a big target has got to be better with the ball at her feet than Tancredi is. I also think there are only two players playing effectively in that midfield.  Daniela and Chalupny are dominant forces on a soccer field and when they’re out there and going strong, St. Louis looks fantastic.  When Chalupny moves back on defense and Daniela is knocked out of the game, they struggle.  I also didn’t notice much of a concerted attack.  Like the Freedom, this is a team that takes a lot of shots.  But they take a lot of silly shots.  Shooting from 30 yards out where the ball bounces 4 times before it hits the keeper’s hands counts as a shot on the stat sheet, but it’s bad, impatient, poor quality soccer.  This seems to be a team that relies heavily on attacking player taking on defenders 1 v.1.  This reliance on technical players going at defenses on their own, doesn’t seem to take into consideration that most of the players on the pitch don’t have the technical ability to play in this fashion.  These are largely US players, not Brazilian ones.  This isn’t the style they grew up playing and it’s yielding really bad shots because the players can’t get in on defenses the same way top Brazilian players can.  If St. Louis wants to score against a team without the troubles in goal the Freedom has, they’re going to have to adjust their strategy to the talent on the team.  If not, they’ll continue to rack up a ton of shots on the stat sheet, but not a lot of wins. 

 

Formation

 

Freedom (4-3-3, back-front, left-right): GK – Spisak; D – Singer, Sauerbrunn, Whitehill, Gilbeau; MF – Sawa, Lindsey, DeDycker with Lindsey playing behind the forward line; F – Bompastor, Wambach, Long.  DeVanna in for Long, Moros in for DeDycker.

 

Athletica (4-4-2, back-front, left-right): GK – Solo; D – Weber, McNeill, Ellertson, Francielle; MF – Daniela, Woznuk, Stoia, Chalupny with Daniela and Chalupny playing centrally and all over the field in the first half; F – Aluko, Tancredi.  With Chalupny moving into the defense on the left wing, Francielle moving to right back and Weber moving into the midfield about midway through the first half.  Hanks in for Tancredi, Cross in for Ellertson and Gray in for Daniela, who I hope gets well as soon as possible. 

 

Freedom Players

 

Spisak – Washington DC has more lawyers per capita than any place on Earth.  If they really wanted the Erin McLeod visa problems solved, they would be.  I’m not sure we really know what’s going on here, and frankly, until she gets here, proves that her health is 100% and that she is ready to step in and give the Freedom a real live professional goalkeeper, I don’t want to hear about it anymore.  Right now, the Freedom are stuck with a very bad goalkeeper situation and they have to figure out how to minimize the impact the goalkeeper is expected to have on the game.  That means acknowledging that this is not a speedy defense and being extremely vigilant with double teams.  This defense can’t make mistakes because they don’t have the speed to compensate and they don’t have a goalkeeper who is going to consistently bail them out. Very discrete, identifiable mistakes led to the three St. Louis goals.  The defense largely did a good job in this game, but three mistakes, is all it took to put them in a hole because there is no bail out valve either in the form of speed or strong goalkeeping.  Let’s review.  The sequence leading to St. Louis’s first goal began with a turnover by Sauerbrunn, They couldn’t compensate for the mistake.  Spisak played very well in that sequence, tremendous foot save but the ball never got cleared.  Second goal, Singer played off Daniela – it’s what a defender has to do when going against a faster player, but the space was all she needed.  Great shot, Spisak didn’t have a chance.  Third goal, a function of again not being vigilant with the double team.  Sauerbrunn is never going to win a foot race with Eniola Aluko, she needed help.  The entire back line has got to know that they’re going to need help.  It wasn’t a great shot, a keeper with better reflexes and range would have had a good chance on that ball.  But the Freedom defense has got to realize that they don’t have a keeper with better reflexes and range, and they can’t fail on a double team, not even once.  It’s too much to ask of a defense, of course. I know that.  But this is the reality of the goal keeper situation in DC right now.  All this is just a really long way of saying, teams will score on the Freedom, more goals than they should, even if the defense, for the most part, plays well. 

 

Singer – A solid defensive effort.  Even on the Daniela goal, she was doing what she was supposed to.  And you know, if someone can score from that far out, hats off to her.  99.9% of the time, in the women’s game, a shot from that distance isn’t going to score.  If Singer had moved up on her, Daniela would have stepped around her – as the Aluko goal against Sauerbrunn showed, all it takes is half a step for a player with a quick trigger to make a defense pay.  She did the fundamentally sound thing, it just didn’t work out.  The play that actually concerned me more was that there was no help for Sauerbrunn on Aluko’s goal.  Sauerbrunn is never going to win that race.  Neither Singer nor Whitehill was anywhere to be found.  Against fast 1 v. 1 players where the attacker is making a run inside, there has got to be a second defender closing.  Farther outside, you just keep the attacker to the outside and it’s enough.  Making the run fairly central, the wing or other central defender has got to help.  Other than those plays, it was a consistent defensive effort.  As for offensively, this was by far her most aggressive game.  She was getting into the attack fairly consistently and that bone crushing challenge to win the ball is what made the third goal possible.  Very strong play – on a night in which the ref had completely swallowed his whistle, she understood what was being allowed and took advantage of it.  Overall a solid outing and I hope to see her playing as aggressively on offense in the future.

 

Sauerbrunn – Yup, she got beat on the Aluko goal.  That’s going to happen.  As I said above, they must double team when fast teams run inside.  She needed help and had none. As discussed above, the defense must assume the goalkeeper is going to miss, so they need to communicate and see these things coming lest these games be high scoring affairs.  And yeah, she touched that ball right to Chalupny which led to that first goal.  This defense can’t make mistakes.  That was two and it led to two goals.  That said, other than those two plays, she really had her typically strong game.  She made some really nice plays and timely clearances.  Most of what St. Louis got was harmless and much of that was due to the central defenders clogging up the box. No one helped her with the double team, but she was helping others all game long, she was defending Tancredi well when she ventured forward and made some nice plays on the left wing when Singer was making her forays forward.  Two unfortunate sequences, but overall a solid outing.

 

Whitehill – I realize the irony of saying this when they gave up three goals, but I actually thought this was one of Cat’s better outings of the season.  I thought she was asserting herself much more on defense than she has previously and she just looked more comfortable out there.  She made a couple of header clearances in the box that reminded me why she’s considered one of the best central defenders in the game.  She was pretty good covering for Gilbeau out wide and when play came inside off that flank.  Gilbeau is fantastic providing support to the offense out of the back, but I’m not sure how good a defender she is, so Cat had quite a bit of work to do on the right side of the field.  And her kicks are incredible.  Her leg looks stronger and stronger as the season goes on.  I assume she’s getting more confident in her knee and that said knee is getting more and more stable as the season wears on.  That ball from Cat on the third goal was phenomenal.  Just a great weapon to have.  I love the Freedom possession game, but Cat has a strong and accurate leg.  She’ll hit her spot from distance, Freedom players just have to be sure to get to the ball, or get to the area so they get any misclearances in the box and can capitalize on them (which is ultimately what happened on goal three).  Nice outing.

 

Gilbeau – Now that’s how you stretch a field.  The bunching before that first goal was scored was terrible.  The Freedom offense just looked like a clumped mess at the start of the game.  Then, in the distance, Wambach sees Gilbeau making what had to have been her umpteenth unrewarded run up the field and boom, ball goes out, Gilbeau serves a beautiful ball back in and GOAL!  Probably my favorite goal of the season so far.  Abby had her head up, made a smart decision, got the ball outside and Gilbeau showed us she can be a very valuable weapon on offense.  And of course, any good defender and midfielder knows it’s time to reward Bompastor, who has probably been struggling and pressing even harder than Abby had been to get that first goal.  Gilbeau showed a nice cross all game long – accurate, strong and quickly and confidently served.  On defense?  Well, she made a pretty big misplay on that pass back to the keeper that went out for a corner.  You can’t pass back to a goalkeeper when you’re that deep . . . and when your goalkeeper is a little shaky to start with.  The defense has got to bolster the keeper on this team and find ways to play without her.  I also think she’s got to get back a little better than she was doing.  The forays forward were fantastic, but she is the speediest player on the backline and she’s got to get back so Cat can get off her flank and go help elsewhere.  Timing those fantastic runs is probably the next step here.  That said, they’re getting a lot more productivity on that flank than they were earlier in the season and since I think the Freedom is going to just have to outscore everyone to compete this year anyway, I think Gilbeau is the best answer out there right now.  She’s already improved in just a handful of games, if the learning curve continues to be this steep, I think she’s going to become a valuable weapon on both sides of the ball. 

 

Sawa – She was getting into the attack a bit more than she has previously.  She made some beautiful quick passes that made me wish she was getting forward even more.  But we’re making progress here and she’s spending more and more time in the other team’s half of the field with each passing game.  Defensively, she was strong winning balls in the air in this one.  She was making some nice take aways.  She was starting the attack at times and making smart passes, but she wasn’t holding the ball much.  A solid if unspectacular outing.  At some point, she’s going to go off and have a statement game where she reminds us exactly who she is.  I hope I’m at that game because it will be something to see.  I think we’re getting closer.

 

Lindsey – This is what I wanted – a playmaker playing right behind the forwards.  I wanted it to be Sawa because she’s one of the best in the world at that position.  But you know, Lori Lindsey is holding her own just fine.  She is constantly around the ball and in the goal mouth.  She makes great decisions, she holds the ball well, she gets it to the forwards.  I’d like to see her sending a few more balls through for Bompastor and/or Long and/or DeVanna.  And what is becoming her most notable strength is her off ball runs.  She is constantly in the box and sitting right there to receive passes and make opportunistic plays.  She had some great chances at goal in this one and just missed wide a couple of times.  Strong outing – as I mentioned, I like this 4-3-3 much better than what we saw earlier, mainly because they’ve got Lindsey sitting behind the forwards.  Good things are happening.  Just outscore ‘em, that’s the way this team is going to get it done. 

 

DeDycker – I liked the way she played.  I think with Daniela on the field the Freedom probably wanted to have a larger physical force out there.  She seems to be good in the air and is content to sit on top of the defense.  I think her ability to read the game needs to improve or Whitehill needs to yell at her more loudly.  She could have helped out a lot with Aluko if she’d seen some of those attacks coming.  I don’t know that she has the speed to get back in a reactive fashion though – if she doesn’t see it ahead of time, she won’t be terribly helpful.  I’d like to see her take on a Lindsay Stoecker kind of role for this Freedom team. I don’t think she has quite the talent or tactical sophistication of Stoecker, but if she could take out one player on the offense (in this case, it would have been either Aluko or Daniela) then I think everything else would have been much easier for the defense to handle.  Solid outing – I’d like to see her assert herself more if she’s going to be out there on a consistent basis. 

 

Bompastor – I’m glad she got her goals.  She’s been the hardest working woman in show business to start the year and it was good she was finally rewarded.  I really liked the way she scored those goals.  It wasn’t 1 v. 1 play that led to the good results, it was great balls from her teammates that she opportunistically hit home.  The ball from Gilbeau was a beauty, all she had to do was flick it home.  The ball from Whitehill which was miscleared by McNeill and she popped over Solo into goal was just an opportunistic and well placed shot.  I always like it when scorers read the situation and score in a “different” way – that she popped this one up and over Solo using her head was very creative and a perfect read on the keeper.  In addition to the goals, she was very active the entire game.  She’s working with her teammates better as well.  Nice outing – I like her up top, it takes some pressure off Abby.

 

Wambach – I think she’s looking more and more like herself with each passing game.  She is going in strong for balls in the box, she’s taking good shots at goal.  And, she’s looking for her teammates.  The pass out to Gilbeau was a brilliant tactical move and it led to the first goal.  There really are options other than putting the ball into the parking lot and passing into traffic.  I think the Freedom are starting to figure that out and play a bit more efficiently in the attacking third.  And that starts with Abby.  Solid outing – she’s looking more comfortable with her teammates and it appears there is some trust building. 

 

Long – The weak link on offense.  I think she’s a great flank midfielder.  I haven’t liked her anywhere else she’s played on this field.  She should be the one taking on defenders and running onto through balls but I just don’t see her making those off ball runs and making herself a target for her teammates.  I don’t know that the Freedom have any better options though.  Definitely need to draft a forward next year, or use an international player slot on one. 

 

DeVanna – I actually thought she showed a bit more creativity in this one than she’s shown in her previous outings.  She was making some nice passes out to Gilbeau, the first time she tried that little flick it was very effective (a little of that goes a long way though), and she was pretty active off the ball. Her speed still isn’t what I’d hoped it would be.  Yes, she’s fast, but she’s not breaking away from other teams’ defenses that effectively.  I thought both McNeill and Ellertson had no problem keeping up with her in this one.  I also think she’s still having some trouble timing her runs.  They’re not even trying to serve her through at this point.  Her increased effort off the ball led to a goal though.  She was positioned wonderfully to capitalize on the pass from Abby.  I was glad to see her finally get off the schneid and score a goal.  Hopefully the floodgates will open now.  Solid outing, hopefully she continues to improve. 

 

Moros – She was fairly active.  I saw her up in the box and sending the ball forward pretty consistently.  She was making a good number of off the ball runs.  I think there was one chance that was a fairly productive attack.  Not much else.  Like Long, she just seems to be on a different page from the rest of the attack.  I’d like to see them both a tad more integrated into the proceedings. 

 

Athletica Players

 

Solo – I can’t really say any of those goals were her fault.  The Freedom were moving the ball well so she got surprised on the DeVanna goal and the first Bompastor goal and Bompastor just popped it over her on her second.  Games like this don’t happen to Solo often but I think the Freedom showed the best way to score on her is not to go right at her.  Move the ball around and flick it in the corners.  Other than the goals, I thought she played well.  She owns the box and brings a confidence unlike anyone else out there . . . well, other than Jonsson.  I think these two keepers are just in a different class from the other keepers in the league.  Her kicking game is strong, as always.  She seems to rein it back a little bit so her teammates can handle it better.  They do win a lot of balls off her foot when she puts it at the midfield stripe.  When she lets loose, and goes deep in the Freedom end, the Freedom defenders were winning the balls.  And that’s about it – it wasn’t a stellar outing, but those three goals were just really well placed. 

 

Weber – I didn’t think she was playing that poorly on defense.  I’m not sure why Athletica decided to move one of the two most dynamic players they have on offense into the defense.  To stop Jill Gilbeau?  Really?  Long wasn’t doing a lot over there, McNeill and Ellertson were giving Weber plenty of help.  Chalupny was filling in the lanes out wide offensively so they were spreading the field well.  Weber wasn’t doing much, but she wasn’t hurting either.  I thought it was an interesting decision to move her out of the defense and force Chalupny back.  Especially since Chalupny is the fast, technical kind of player that gives the Freedom defense fits.  It seemed like a panicky decision to me and Weber really didn’t provide much when she moved into the midfield.  Solid enough on defense, running around without just a ton of purpose when she moved to the midfield.  The St. Louis offense seems designed for technical players running at goal.  I don’t think that’s Weber.  This switch, more than anything, had me wondering if Barcellos really appreciates the difference in technical ability between Brazilian players and most US players.  I’m not sure his offense is going to be effective if he doesn’t figure that difference out real quick.

 

McNeill – Here’s the thing, it’s not a foul if the ref doesn’t blow his whistle.  It’s just good hard defense.  In this one, the ref swallowed his whistle . . . a lot . . . and McNeill used it to her advantage.  I thought she was quite a force in the box, she had Abby rattled for stretches during the game, she moved into the midfield to make some strong tackles and was an extremely disruptive force on the field.  She needs to watch herself though, she committed a retaliation foul in the late going that should have sent her off.  An easily cardable offense that would have been her second of the game.  I have a feeling after this game, they’re going to be calling things a little tighter next week so she’ll have to adjust.  She’s not just good defending physically though. She’s got good speed and good enough foot skills to make clean take aways on ground attacks as well. It’s a shame the misclear on the Freedom’s game tying goal was off her head because otherwise, she had a fairly dominating performance. 

 

Ellertson – This is what the Freedom don’t have.  Speed enough to make up for mistakes.  Someone missed the coverage on Bompastor, who took off toward goal completely unchecked and then, out of nowhere, closing space at an alarming rate, Ellertson charged in and what appeared to be Bompastor alone against Solo wound up being a ball knocked over the endline.  Brilliant play – probably only one other active central defender in the league could have made it (Christie Rampone).  Speed gives a defense wiggle room and even though I enjoy the memory of Tina Frimpong, collegiate forward extraordinaire, Tina Ellertson is developing into a heck of a defender and she’s probably playing where she should be.  Most of the game, she appeared to be marking Wambach.  She did a great job.  She has the speed and fitness to follow Abby all over the field and she’s big and strong enough to win some 50-50 balls and body up on her.  She was able to alter shots and impact angles.  Nice game – St. Louis is better defensively than I thought they’d be.  And yes, I realize the irony of saying that after their worst defensive outing of the season.  Really were well placed balls on the goals – can’t fault anyone too much for them.

 

Francielle – I’m not sure how good a defender she is, but she is a nuisance on offense.  She was all over the attack the entire game.  She was getting forward on the flank and she was playing inside and attacking on the ground through the midfield.  She’s very active and has a great workrate.  I thought she was playing better through the midfield than a couple of the actual midfielders were.  She seemed to be playing more centrally after her switch to Weber’s left wing.  I’m not sure anyone was actually playing that position for stretches.  I think that’s how Gilbeau was free so often.  She seems to be the type of player for which this offense is designed.  And that’s really it – very active performance.  I think I need to see Athletica play a time or two more to have much more on her.

 

Daniela – She makes this team run.  She is always on or around the ball on offense.  She plays fairly centrally and makes repeated runs at goal.  This is not a team that maintains possession and patiently pokes around looking for an opportunity.  This is a team that relies on its personalities to get deep in the attacking end and either go at goal or make a pass to the person who’s going to go at goal.  I think she takes a few too many distance shots, but she scored on one in this outing so it’s not an unreasonable shot for her.  I still believe that shooting from that far out is an incredibly low percentage shot in the women’s game and I’d like to see less of it.  She’s a very physical player who doesn’t shy from contact.  She’s a great ball winner both in the air and on the ground.  She handles kicks from Solo as well as anyone. Just a great player who had a dominant performance in this game.  The only mar on this game was how it ended for her.  For Brazil, for St. Louis, for the league, for the fans and especially for Daniela, I hope to see her back and 100% soon.

 

Woznuk – I don’t know how equipped she is to be playing in this system.  I think she is more comfortable in a smooth one touch passing style system where possessing the ball in the midfield is key.  Here, for much of the game, Chalupny and Daniela just seemed to be bypassing her and I didn’t see that she was asserting herself a whole lot into the proceedings.  She’s not the 1 v. 1 player that Chalupny, Aluko, Daniela and even Francielle are and she’s not the target that Tancredi is, so she wasn’t getting into the attack consistently.  I just didn’t think she had much of an impact on the game. And the frequency with which she was getting pushed off balls and making passes that weren’t quite strong enough to hit her target makes me think she might need a little strength training. With Daniela out, Woznuk is going to have to find a way to contribute a lot more than she did in this one.  I’m holding other comments on her until I see this team another time or two.  This just might have been a quiet outing.

 

Stoia – So Barcellos says she’s the key to the offense and the most important player in the midfield.  Maybe, but not so much in this game.  I don’t think I remember even one touch on the ball.  Maybe I lost her, maybe there wasn’t much to see.  Daniela and Chalupny dominated in the midfield, then Francielle came up and made some noise,  Woznuk and Weber could be seen floating about making the occasional play.  Aluko was all over the ball the entire match, Tancredi did her thing and used some physical play to win some balls in the Freedom half of the field, even the central defenders moved forward and got into the act, but Stoia?  The game flows through Stoia?  Really?  I honestly can’t come up with anything to say here, that’s how much the offense didn’t flow through Stoia in this one.  Like Woznuk, I’ll give this one another viewing before I opine too much on her play, because in this match, she made no impact that I could discern.  Might have just been a quiet night.  I’ll try to figure it out the next time St. Louis is on TV.

 

Chalupny – I thought she looked fantastic when she was in the midfield.  She was all over the field, making runs into the box, making takeaways on the offensive end, running right at the defense and sending balls in, and making opportunistic plays one of which led to the first goal.  When she moved back on defense, she made some nice takeaways, played some solid defense, but was otherwise neutralized.  Barcellos stopped her more effectively than the Freedom ever could have.  With Daniela out, I doubt we see it again this season.  Chalupny is going to have to be the point player in the midfield now.  She’s going to have to run at goal, win balls, distribute and put some in herself.  I expect both Stoia and Woznuk to step up, but the brunt of the Daniela loss will fall on Chalupny’s shoulders, if for no other reason than she is now unquestionably the best field player on this team.  Started out as a nice game that all the nice Freedom fans should thank Barcellos for neutralizing.

 

Aluko – I saw this player in the 2005 UEFA Women’s Championship and just loved what she brought to the pitch.  She’s fast, she’s got good instincts, she’s good technically and tactically, she has a good workrate and she’s just flat out fun to watch.  I can’t even tell you how excited I was that she decided to come play in the WPS.  And she did not disappoint in this one.  She was all over the field, making off ball runs, passing well and taking some decent chances at goal.  Her goal was just a great display of how speed can destroy even really really good defenders.  She received the pass from Hanks, ran right at Sauerbrunn and all she needed was to get half a step ahead to get a shot off and score.  Great play.  I’d like to see them use her a bit more effectively though.  Nice passes on the ground through the midfield and nice ground passes behind the defense would be a great use of her skills.  Hanks knows how to pass a ball through and teaming these two up for longer stretches with Chalupny playing right behind them could be devastating. 

 

Tancredi – I understand wanting to team a big target player with a smaller faster player but I’m concerned that Tancredi doesn’t quite have the technical skill to be playing forward on this team.  That said, she did a lot of nice things out there.  She’s a fantastic and strong ball winner to have in the attacking half of the field.  She was too much for the Freedom defenders to handle on more than one occasion.  I thought she was more effective when she was playing in the midfield and winning balls than up top.  Part of it was simply that no one was looking for her that often.  This is a team that plays a lot of 1 v. 1 soccer where the individual attackers are taking on defenders.  I’m not sure what role Tancredi is supposed to have unless it’s to make thankless run after thankless run until someone tries to bounce a ball off her head and into the goal.  I might put her back a line to make a bit better use of her than was made in this outing.  With Daniela out, they’re going to need a physical presence in the midfield.  I think she’d be a fantastic choice.  It really will be interesting to see how Barcellos adjusts the lineup with Daniela gone.  She really was the center of everything on both sides of the ball – at least in this game.  The calculus of how to compensate for her loss is going to involve every single player on the roster.  Anyhow – solid outing, which left me wondering if we won’t see her in a slightly different role in the future. 

 

Hanks - I thought she came in and brought a great spark.  Her skills just seem to be a better fit for the St. Louis offense than Tancredi’s.  She was running through the middle of the field, making passes, getting in passing lanes to win the ball, and combining with Aluko and the other midfielders. Her assist on the Aluko goal was great and honestly, what I thought St. Louis needed to do more.  They’ve got an enormously talented and speedy striker right there, they need to find her feet more.  Hanks found ‘em.  A few of the members of the Class of ’09 are having a tougher time than I think a lot of us thought they would.  That this is a new league makes us forget that these kids are rookies, real rookies.  And it’s going to take a few games.  Maybe even a third of the season or so for them to find their legs and realize they’re not in college anymore.  Hanks is someone who I think is going to blossom and I think it’s going to happen fairly soon. 

 

Cross – I think Ellertson was missed when she went out.  There just wasn’t the confident and physical force in the center of the box in front of goal that there had been earlier in the game.  Cross didn’t really do anything wrong, she’s just not as good – it’s why there seemed to be a drop off in play and why it seemed like the Freedom had a much easier time parking themselves in the box in the front of goal such that they could capitalize on a couple of chances and tie the game up.  Not a bad outing by Cross, but they need to make sure Tina stays on the field in the future. They’d have done better to play a man down for a couple of minutes and see if they could get her back on than sub her out quite that quickly. 

 

Gray – I loved her at Penn State – glad she made a team.  I saw her scrambling around the sideline a few times and try to boot the ball forward.  I don’t have much else.  I hope I get the opportunity to see her play more in the not too distant future (I’m already thinking expansion, take her and let her play Philly . . . do it!).

 

And this is really long even for me.  Fun game to watch – I don’t think either of these teams is going to wind up in the upper echelon when it’s all said and done, but they put on a good show and for season one of a new league, that’s important.  This game was end to end action and lots of goals.  It should keep the fans coming back.  And yes, I realize I’ve been largely silent on the elephant in the room concerning this game.  The physicality.  I am a fan of letting players play – but there is a limit.  It was obvious very early in this one that it was out of control.  It’s not players’ jobs to police themselves.  It’s the ref’s job to make sure that chippy play doesn’t become something else and I think most of us can agree the ref in this one failed horribly at that task.  Anyway – great game, I’m just a little sad it ended on such a sour note. 

 

Beulah