Freedom 3 Power 1

Iíve got a feeling Iíll be saying this a lot this season: it wasnít pretty but the Freedom won and Iíll certainly take that. Had I actually done more than a handful of these last season I certainly would have said that a lot last year. Freedom really havenít changed much from last year (other than ditching the man marking for the most part) and as Anne Makinen noted on her way out of town when explaining why she never really clicked here, Washington really doesnít run an offense. They defend, play direct and rely on individuals to get it done offensively. While not playing attractive soccer like Boston managed for a half yesterday, the Freedom manage to make it work - and I certainly like the ugly style result the Freedom managed better than the result the attractive playing Boston wound up with (OK, so it all kinda fell apart for Boston in the second half, but weíve got two years of games we can look at with them - ugly wins for Washington, pretty doesnít win nearly enough for Boston - and before you Boston fans get mad at me - I think theyíre probably capable of being a playoff team this year and that they played a strong first half - I think Atlanta is simply that good - unfortunately, I imagine theyíre probably going to embarrass and demoralize everyone at some point this season, it was just Bostonís turn yesterday).

One of the reasons I think things were a little uglier than they needed to be though, was the switch of Wambach and Little up top. The thing is, the Freedom have two sets of offensive players and those players play at very very different levels. And in this game, for reasons that completely elude me (OK, he was probably trying to balance things a bit) players who donít connect at all were on the same side of the field . . . And as one would expect, they werenít connecting at all and all a fan such as myself could do was watch Abbyís run up the right side, see Jacqui completely miss what was happening, and think to myself "gee, Mia would have seen that and been there for the pass." The Littles and Lindsey connect well because they play at the same level, same speed of play, they see the same things. Likewise, Mia and Abby (and Bai Jie) mesh well for the same reasons. The Freedom simply donít have a playmaking midfielder to make this all work together, nor do they seem to have any kind of offensive game plan to straighten it all out, put people in very defined positions where the offense dictates rather than the player (a la Mark Krikorian coached Charge teams) - thatís simply not how the Freedom works, itís not how they have ever worked and itís not lookiní like how theyíre going to work anytime soon. That being the case, the productive combination play will be in spurts and it will be isolated and between a handful of players at a time and those players need to be on the same side of the field. While both of Jacquiís goals were great individual efforts on her part and they did take place in the center of the field, I would like to point out, for both of them, she and Abby had switched and she was back in her comfort zone playing around the players with whom she has the most chemistry. Hopefully it was a one game experiment and weíll have the little blonde trio on the right next game (it was just the last pass that needed work in game one, other than that, they looked fine) and Abby and Mia will be workiní it on the left/left central.

As for New York, they looked better than last week and thatís got to be at least a little satisfying for them. Frankly, I think theyíre going to have to learn to take pleasure in the "they looked better than last week" victories this season, because I donít think theyíre going to have more than a handful of actual victories to enjoy. Part of the reason NY looked better is simply that Washington looked worse than Atlanta did. But that was only part of the reason. I think more significantly were the adjustments Sermanni made - he took stock of his personnel and made a formation change to get the best personnel available on the field. He appeared to switch to a 4-3-3, got Pearman on the field and got one of those rookie defenders outta there. All of that helped to shore things up for them defensively and give them a bit better play up top in that the extra forward freed Tiff up to basically run wild. Iím sure theyíll go back to the original game plan once Salisbury and Peters return, but for this game, I think Sermanni made some good adjustments and his team responded. Jacqui beat them once (well, she beat them twice on one play), Mia beat them once (resulting in the PK) and Smolak needs to learn that if sheís not going to catch the ball, she needs to punch it hard - putting a hand on it but not making a whole lot of effort to control the ball in the aftermath resulted in Jacquiís very opportunistic second goal - so the defense really didnít get burned to the same degree they did in the first week.

Formation

Freedom (4-2-2-2) - back-front, right-left: GK - Mullinix; Def - S. Little, Moore, Grubb, Barr; DMid - Stoecker, Jones; AMid - Lindsey, Hamm; Fwd - Wambach, J. Little. Gerardo in for Lindsey, Beard in for J. Little in the waning moments.

Power (appeared to be a 4-3-3 . . . or a 4-3-2 and Tiff will play where ever he heck Tiff wants; back-front, right-left): GK - Smolak; Def - Pearce, Raveia, Orlandos, Tietjen; Mid - Janss, Boxx (a little withdrawn, other two mids played higher and centrally almost the whole game), Rapp; Forward - Pearman, Milbrett (she was all over the place, when she fell back, though, Janss would move up - they were running three up top almost the whole game), Welsh. Davey in for Milbrett in the late going.

Freedom Players

Mullinix - what is Dave Vanole doing to her kicking game??? I realize theyíre going for a flat ball that gets up field quickly and finds Abbyís or Stoeckís or Steffiís head - but a lot of those balls were just sad. After she really mishit one she just started smashing her goal kicks upfield again and Abby was flicking them nicely. Unfortunately no one was running on to them, but if Bai Jie ever gets here, she loves running onto those balls so itís good to get accustomed to running those plays again. As for her goalkeeping - it was solid. The whole team kind of stopped playing at the end of the first half and no one was on Raveia on the corner kick. Sheís good in the air and obviously has the hardest head in the WUSA to even be back on the field, and she headed it home. Very well executed set piece by New York. I noticed there were far fewer miscues with the defense than there were last week. Moore was playing much much deeper which I think led to a lot of the improvement. In the late going the Freedom looked like they were sitting on the lead (they shut it down waaaayyyyy too early, I really do not like how early they start playing in survival mode - itís going to cost them at some point), and there were a few communication flubs there but basically, this is an area where they needed improvement in game one, and I think they showed that improvement. Canít ask for much more than that. Another solid outing from Siri. Freedom definitely have one of the best GKs in the league - itís something we take for granted around these parts and I just wanted to take a second to acknowledge.

S. Little - Well, it was a quiet night for two of the three little blonde girls and she was one of the two. Not much to say - as I mentioned above, she and Jacqui work well together and simply werenít in position to do that in this one. Now Iím not a big fan of the freaky twin promotion garbage the league is so obsessed with pushing on the nice fans at every opportunity, but it is a fact that those two click very well on the field. I think it will be good for them both if/when Jacqui and Abby switch back. As for her defending, well, not too much that was terribly dangerous occurred to the Freedom right. At times Emmy was pushed so far forward that the Freedom were running with three backs and they handled themselves nicely. Not too much to say, solid defensive and a quiet offensive outing.

Moore - she looked better than she did last week. Key to that is that she seemed to be playing much deeper than she did last week. And ya know - Iím not a bit fan of the offside trap so if she needs to play deeper to get the job done, then thatís what she should do. The man marking thing seems to be officially ditched (maybe it will re-emerge depending on the opponent, but with Welsh out there for NY now too, I think they made a good choice not devoting her exclusively to Millie) - I noticed sheíd track Tiff at times, but never for longer than about 90 seconds or so, then if Tiff retreated into the midfield, sheíd hand her off to another and head back home in front of goal. She did seem to give up an awful lot of corner kicks, which is an indication she was getting to plays late, but not too much harm was done, and itís better than not getting to the play at all, so hopefully this will improve with time as well. She seemed to be pretty vocal out there and might have taken it upon herself to improve upon the miscues from Week 1 - she was involved in a lot of them in week one and in response she seemed to be making sure everyone was aware of where she was and when she was coming off of whom and to whom she was transferring the defensive responsibility - she was very deliberate in much of what she did. There was very nice help defense - minus Emmy, this isnít the fastest group of defenders in the league so it was good to see them working together and working with Stoeck and Steffi. Nice game - itís good to see that a lot of the communication problems and the getting caught too far forward thereby leaving the center vulnerable problems have been addressed.

Grubb - A pretty solid outing - I donít have much to say here. Nice help defense - with Moore playing deep she moved forward a bit more in this one than last week, but basically, both central defenders stayed home in this one and that worked just fine. Emmy was wandering, so they probably felt it was necessary and I donít disagree. I vaguely remember there was something I wanted to address here, but canít for the life of me remember what it was - maybe I should write these things down . . . . oh well, couldnít have been that important. So - she gets a solid game by default because thatís all I can remember.

Barr - ya know, maybe the new Ďdo is making it hard for my eye to catch her, but is she even playing defense? I keep noticing her in the midfield and up top - and I thought it was interesting when they started the second half she was up in the midfield with Mia even with the forwards, while the other three defenders were lined up together quite a bit behind her. I didnít notice that they formally switched formations . . . or that they even informally did, but it was indicative of just how aggressively they were using her and pushing her forward up the left side. But anyway - I didnít notice just a ton of defending by Emmy. She was racing to get back a few times and there were some stretches where she was combining well with Grubb and Moore to stop the Power attack, but thatís about all Iíve got. As for her offense, ya know - itís the same thing Iíll probably talk about with Jacqui - sheís just a step slow in her thought process and execution. The speed of play simply isnít there. Give and gos with Mia donít happen because she sees it too late, Abby and Mia have to stop dead in their tracks because some of the other folks donít put the ball through fast enough to keep them on side. This is why I think Abby and Mia need to play next to each other and why Bai Jie needs to get here and why I hope the Aussie is going to be really really good - right now the absence of an organized offense run by a top notch playmaker who can mesh and mingle all these differing talents is resulting in so many missed opportunities. Like Iíve said, it works out for the Freedom most of the time, but I think it works better for the Freedom when they have at least pockets of combination play on the field, and pockets of folks who connect rather than relying on individual effort to quite the extent that they did in this one. Anyway - not a bad outing for Emmy but she does have to learn to put that ball in front of goal a step earlier so that some of those balls make it to their target rather than making it into the belly of some hard working defender whoís got more than enough time to stop the play. Sheís got a nice cross - sheís just got to learn to, and have the confidence in it to, deliver it off one touch rather than taking the ball, keeping the ball, looking around and then it being to late to get it where it needs to go.

Stoecker - I have very little. I think she did a nice job defensively. Playing fairly deep in this one. Not real active on set pieces - certainly not as active on set pieces as she was last week. Quiet day for her - defensive midfield play didnít just thrill and excite me for either team in this one. Letís face it, this wasnít just a wonderfully played match - it was a fairly entertaining match, kept me engaged for 90 minutes, and I had a very nice evening at RFK, but itís not going to go down as one of the Freedomís finest moments. Iíve got nothing else.

Jones - I think this was probably her poorest performance in a Freedom uniform. Just like year one and the start of year 2, the Freedom were having one heck of a time moving the ball forward in this one. Instead of passing the ball forward, it was constantly moving back and much to my surprise and dismay, she was putting that ball backward more than anyone. Had she been under extreme pressure, then fine, put it back, but sometimes she just put it back there - I donít know why. If she doesnít see a pass, sheís Steffi Jones, she should take it up herself - someone will get open or she can take a crack at goal. But to go back and go back and go back is just unnecessary and the play in the league as a whole has gotten to the point where we shouldnít be seeing this kind of thing too much anymore (especially when one of those resulted in three back passes all the way back to Siri who was being pressured by a Power player). I also didnít notice she was ball winning very well, either in the air or on the ground, and that she was having trouble holding possession. Just a bad outing. I donít expect to see another one like this anytime soon. I know sheís a better player than that, and she is allowed to have a subpar game, so Iíll just move on, leave it at that and plan on writing better things about her in the next one.

Lindsey - very very quiet outing - on the upside, she seemed extremely displeased with herself when she came out of the game so thatís a good sign. As Iíve mentioned a few thousand times, this team really doesnít run its offense through the midfield - sheís going to have to find her own game here because itís not an offense where the coach is going to hand the team to his playmaker - itís not even an offense where thereís going to be a playmaker. Anne Mak never could find a place for herself in this environment - I hope Lindseyís seeming dismay at her own performance yesterday is an indication that sheís going to keep on searching until she finds one. She is a tough little player - had some nice takeaways and the workrate is definitely there - it just might take some time for her to figure out exactly what it is she can contribute. And again, in game 1, she and the Littles combined nicely, it was just the last pass they missed - hopefully theyíll be on the same side in the next one and can be a pocket of combination play out there and they can make things happen. As for this one, very quiet performance and I actually wasnít disappointed to see Gerardo come in for her to see if she could make more of an impact.

Hamm - OK - well, Iíll repeat another point for the thousandth time - sheís playing too deep to be effective. Case in point - early in the game Abby made a brilliant run forward with the ball at her feet, got behind the defense and you could tell she wanted to launch it into the box - no one made the run with her, Jacqui saw it waayyy too late and Mia, Mia, the only player on the field who saw what was happening, was playing so deep that at an all out run she just couldnít get into the box in time - Abby wound up cutting back and circling around the defender, Mia was still behind her moving forward, and Abby had to shoot or lose possession. Unfortunate - while Abby shots are fun, it was obvious thatís not what she wanted to do with the ball, that wasnít the best play on the ball and if Mia had either been up top or playing on the same side with Abby it would have been a much better scoring opportunity. Miaís most dangerous moment was when she was released up the right, got behind everyone and was going to be one v. one with Smolak - that resulted in the PK - Power defender (it was Pearman, actually, not a defender, if I recall correctly - Iím not 100% on that though) had no choice but to foul her once she caught up to her. Maybe she could have stopped Mia before she got in the box, but Miaís kinda tough to catch from behind - once she gets by you, youíre pretty much toast. So that was that, Mia created the PK, Mia took and made the PK - nice individual effort. Wasnít real active most of the rest of the day though. I expect weíre going to see Jacqui and Abby switched back in the next one - and hopefully that will take care of a lot of the absence of offense in this one.

Wambach - well - besides the nice run I described in Miaís section, I really donít have much. This was just a very quiet and fairly unimpressive offensive outing by the Freedom on all counts. Thereís never much organization, but there was even less than usual. I didnít notice a problem with Abby and was even delighted when she pulled out some fancy dribbling late in the second half, but there just wasnít too much remarkable about the Freedomís offense all night long. It wasnít a bad outing, just a relatively quiet one. I look for a much louder outing from the entire offense against the CRays.

J. Little - both of her goals were tremendous individual effort. And those two goals alone get her a "good game" on my little game-o-meter. However, even one of those goals showed her limitations speed of play-wise. On that first goal, which was a brilliant bit of 1 v. 2 activity on her part, she made it so hard for herself by not shooting on that first touch around the defender - instead, she settled the ball, and had to get around the defender a second time - SHOOT Jacqui, SHOOT. It worked out that time, and kudos to her, her tenacity and her ball skills but she has got to learn to make quicker decisions with the ball. She had a lot of opportunities in this game, opportunities to put balls through and opportunities for herself - she was probably more active than anyone else offensively - but so many of those chances result in nothing because she holds the ball so long the defense has more than enough time to set up. One of the most egregious of these instances was a give and go with Mia - Mia put the ball to her, took off and Jacqui held the ball, turned around and passed inside and left Mia hanging - she just doesnít see things sometimes.

And can I just take a moment to speak to the Freedom fans who were at the game - if you were one of the fools booing her yellow card, can I ask, what the heck game were you watching? Thatís a dangerous play in the menís game, thatís a dangerous play in the womenís game and if dogs played soccer, it would be a dangerous play there too. Thereís being a homer and thereís being an idiot - Jacqui put her cleat in Raveiaís face - I'm sorry Jacqui almost hurt herself on the bad bad foul, but it was 100% her reckless and dangerous actions that caused the collision.  Raveiaís face was not foot high, Jacquiís foot was face high - that was a horribly dangerous play, she not only deserved the yellow she got but sheís very fortunate she didnít get red. Ridiculous - Jacquiís the only one who seems to get just how bad that play was (and kudos to her for admitting it - yeah Jacqui, you almost did kill her) - I believe her when she says the ball just rose on her, but ya know, when you are jumping that high, that out of control and someone elseís head is just about on the ball, you have got to pull back. Unbelievable people were booing that yellow (and even more idiotically, calling for a dangerous play on Raveia - unbelievable).  The Freedom are my team and I love 'em, but Iíd have pulled red.  It was as ugly a play as Iíve seen since Emily Burt took out Dawn Greathouse last year - and the play happened right in front of me folks, I got way too good a look at it.

OK - thatís my little diatribe on that - guy next to me thought it was the greatest thing ever that Raveia was heading to the locker room so they could get the bleeding to stop - and he was there with his daughters, nice sportsmanship you're teaching them, guy - what a jerk - made me a little mad, can you tell . . . . Onward.

Gerardo - I thought that was a pretty good sub to make. She didnít really provide much of a spark, but she wasnít coming in at a position where that really mattered. She played some solid defense when she got in. Freedom had already started sitting on that lead by the time she got in, so just not a ton offensively. Itís starting to concern me a little how early in games they go into survival mode though. It just looks to me sometimes that at the end of the first half and at the end of games they just take a deep breath and hold it until time runs out - you can just see on them that they want nothing more than for the whistle to blow and for it to all be safely over. I have a bad feeling that Raveia goal in stoppage time at the end of the first half is not going to be the last goal of that type we see scored - they just stop playing and start surviving and thatís the best way to get in trouble out there.

Power Players

Smolak - well a little more composed than she was last week but the decision making was still questionable at times. Sheís just not assertive back there. On the upside, she had veterans with her this week and Orlandos was playing quite a bit better so her defense was helping her out more. As for the goals, Jacquiís first was scored on the defenders, Miaís goal was earned by toasting the Power midfield and defense, but Jacquiís second, keeper misplay led to that opportunity. The next time down the field showed the difference between Siri and Smolak - Siri couldnít get two hands on the ball either, but she punches it far enough so it goes over the goal (sadly, the Power scored on the ensuing corner kick, but that issue has already been addressed) - the ball just hit Smolak in the hand - it was probably catchable, but if thereís any question at all, she has got to punch that ball out of there and out of danger. There were a few of those balls that she didnít get out of there strong that sheís quite lucky she wasnít picking out of the back of the net. Iím still left thinking it wouldnít have hurt them to have picked Fahey off of waivers. Iím just not seeing it with Smolak.

Pearce - I thought the whole defensive unit played a decent game - not a whole lot that was real dangerous was being unleashed on the Power defense though so it would have been nice if sheíd gotten forward a bit more. On the other hand, Tietjen was getting forward quite a bit so maybe thatís why she hung back. I imagine the Atlanta impact was some of the reason for caution as well - when you get shellacked, youíre going to be cautious next time out - thatís just reality. Overall though, Freedom goals were isolated incidents, other than the goals, the defense really looked fairly solid - much stronger than they looked against Atlanta - just looked a notch more confident if nothing else.

Raveia - I liked her game a lot - and no, itís not just that she showed lots and lots of toughness coming back and coming back strong after taking a foot to the face from a flying Little, but she played some nice tough defense back there. Sheís a very strong and aggressive defender, doesnít have the best speed but does have nice acceleration to the ball, so she does get to some plays you donít think sheís going to get to. Her goal was nice - I donít know whether she just eluded everyone on her header or whether she was just uncovered, but it was a very well executed sequence on the corner regardless. Just a strong game overall - the central D looked much more stronger this week. No offense to Lindsey Jones, but I think there should be a one rookie limit on any central D - Raveia just showed a lot of savvy out there. That she seemed quite in command and confident seemed to help Orlandos a bit. Nice outing. This is a player who I have a feeling is going to grow on me very quickly.

Orlandos - well, last week when I saw this kid faked off her feet (and onto her butt) more than a few times, I was a little worried. But I think it might have just been too many rookies on the field for opening day and they got a little freaked out (especially after the Jones own goal - and there was nothing the kid could have done about that - it was just unfortunate - I think it killed the confidence of the youngsters on that backline for the day though). In this one, she was surrounded by veterans and I thought she played a much better, much more sure footed game - I didnít notice her fall on her fanny while a zippy little striker was going around her even once. As for the first Little goal - like I said earlier - that wasnít exactly a shining moment for anyone on the defense, but it was one isolated play. Abby wasnít much of an issue in this one and part of that was due to the tough defense. Solid outing and it was good to see the improvement from Week 1.

Tietjen - I liked her game a lot. I wasnít expecting a lot there but she got forward nicely, played strong defense, was good in the air. I really donít have a lot on this defense. I think the whole unit is going to have some trouble with teams with fast strikers and I think Orlandos will have her rookie games, but in this one, they held their own. I think they can be a solid unit - if they had a better keeper playing behind them, they might be a strong one. But they donít, so I do think fast teams will give them trouble. Next week against San Diego should be interesting - unless Mac just goes nuts on them, I think theyíll be able to hold their own. We shall see.

Janss - her best moments were when she was filling in for Tiff up top. Tiff was just kind of all over the place in this one, and when she got deep in the midfield, Janss would shift up top. She made some nice runs into the box and provided some nice moments for them. The Power have a little bit of trouble with that last pass as well - they just seem a little impatient at times. And force things places where they shouldnít. I donít have a ton on this midfield - itís a shame that they donít have a real playmaker on the team - Tiff needs one, Welsh needs one, Pearman has proven to be a nice target player in the past - I just donít think they have a midfielder to pull it together for them, and I donít think Janss is going to be that midfielder. My understanding that Peters is the person who will fill that role so it will be interesting to see if this offense looks more organized and if the combination play is more plentiful once she gets to the team.

Boxx - She just isnít as dominating a player as she was in the first year of the league. I really had a lot of hope for her coming over to New York and I just donít see her commanding the air and showing the offensive savvy she did her first season. She didnít have a bad game, and she did win her share of the air balls, but sheís gone from being a dominating player to one you barely notice. I donít think the front runners had much support from the midfield at all in this one - thatís part of the reason Tiff kept running back into the midfield to try and create for herself. Defensive midfielders in a 4-3-3 need to change the point of attack and provide some support for the offense as well as sitting on top of the defense and I just didnít see it happening in this one. Not a bad performance, but, uhhhhh, they kinda gave up Wagner to get Boxx, Smolak and Tietjen . . . so Boxx needs to deliver a bit better than she has the first two games of the season - she needs to deliver like she did her first year in the league.

Rapp - well, I donít have much - didnít notice her a lot actually. She might be the only one I can say this about, but I think she had a better performance in the first week. Sheís also one I think will benefit from a real playmaking middie in there - she seems torn between taking on the role herself, being a big defensive force winning balls in the midfield and getting forward to be a target or provide service into the box - she seems undecided as to which role should be hers and that appears to be making her a little tentative doing all three. Maybe switching back to the original game plan once the Aussies arrive will help her look a bit more confident/sure about what sheís doing out there. I think she can be a strong player for them, I also think they have a lot of things left to sort out.

Pearman - She brought a lot of life to the field when she came in the game last week so I thought inserting her into the lineup was a pretty good idea. The New York offense had some nice play - the Freedom defense was able to handle most of it as it was not a very fast developing offense, but they had some nice moments. I donít have much else - somehow, Tiff and Welsh looked a bit more dangerous the first half against Atlanta and for moments in the second half against Atlanta than any of them looked in this game, but I think they had better possession in this one. The next step for them is to do something productive with that possession. A couple of times I even thought to myself that the Power had the better run of play (during those moments I was also thinking how much better both Bostonís and Atlantaís offense looked than that of either of the teams I was watching, but thatís another issue), so itís an area with some hope. Again, if this Peters person is good, then this unit has the size, speed, strength and savvy to make some noise. As with most other things concerning this team . . . we shall see . . .

Milbrett - she looked real frustrated the whole game. Wasnít a great outing for her. Moore wasnít man marking her most of the time, but she was being very closely tracked wherever she went - sometimes it was by Moore, sometimes by Grubb, sometimes Steffi or Stoeck. They were denying the ball to her very well - thatís when she started playing deeper and trying to win the ball in the midfield. When she managed that, someone was on her almost immediately. It really looked to me like the Freedom was determined to not let Tiffeny Milbrett beat them. And that was a good choice - itís up to the rest of the team to make defenses pay for keying in on Tiff and they simply didnít in this one. Thatís about all Iíve got here - ya know last week, we watched Christie Welsh kick a ball out of Herndon Stadium, over the field house and into the street, this week Tiff trashed the game plan and was all over the place trying to make something happen . . . I tell ya - if the two front runners are already this frustrated this early, itís going to be a real long season for them . . . real long season. Hopefully Peters is good . . . real real good. Oh, and you know itís a World Cup year when Siri Mullinix is down on her hands and knees tending to Tiffeny Milbrettís ankle (she did wait for Mia to kick the ball out of bounds first) . . . . I hope it wasnít anything serious . . . I certainly could have done without seeing that though (Wambach sitting on the field holding her knee post game and subsequently getting that knee wrapped wasnít my favorite moment either - one more chance, she might only be getting one more chance with the Nats, I want her at full strength going into that camp for the Nigeria game - hopefully just a little post game nick though).

Welsh - I thought she was better in her debut against Atlanta - she was on the other side of the field in the first half, though and I think I just completely lost her. In the second half, I really didnít notice her do anything too remarkable one way or another. Iíll have to take a pass on this one - this frontline just seems a little frustrated to me. Like Iíve mentioned - my hope is that Peters comes in and is able to alleviate some of this frustration. She has had some moments where sheís shown some nice speed, surprising play on the ball (surprisingly good play on the ball), and some nice ability to get in the box and make a nice target out of herself. Just havenít seen that last pass get to her as it should and havenít seen her make the nice last touch that Iíd expect. Maybe it just needs a little time . . . and an Aussie midfielder. Again, we shall see.

Davey - I love this kid. I have loved this kid since the first Freedom open practice in year 1. She tries so hard every second sheís out there. I thought she brought a lot of life to the field and came close to making a mockery of the Freedom survival stance on a couple of occasions. As far as late game sparks go, sheís a good one - she can fly down the field like nobodyís business, is very disruptive and created some nice chances at the close of the game. Freedom were on their heels scrambling a bit at the end - like I said, it looks like this team just holds its breath at times waiting for the game to end - and Davey was a huge part in making those last moments dicey for the Freedom.

Overall comment on this game - well, I only saw the first half of Atlanta-Boston before I headed out to RFK (I watched the rest in silent disbelief when I got home - ya know, no one should get credit for "discovering" Maribel Dominguez - they could have come to my house and I could have told them about her 2 years ago - and I know of at least one other fan type who has been just as dismayed and annoyed as I that she wasnít in the league the first two years), and I must say - the level of play in the two games wasnít even in the same ballpark. The sophistication of play and speed of play in Atlanta-Boston was far more advanced. That said, we saw last year that that doesnít always mean a whole lot. Pretty and sophisticated doesnít always beat scrappy, opportunistic and just good enough to win . . . I look forward to seeing how the Freedom measure up against Atlanta in a couple of weeks. As for NY - well, next week against SD should be competitive. It should be a nice chance for them to build on the improvement shown this week. Add into the mix the intrigue from the big trade and next weekís game of the week is definitely worth watching.

Beulah