Freedom 4 Charge 1

Ahhhhh - nothiní like sittiní in a wet RFK on a Saturday afternoon. The hot and sticky feel of a humid afternoon, the wet seats, the steamy post-rain air - ahhhhh, itís official, Mother Nature truly hates womenís soccer in the nationís capital. Fortunately those fans who showed up for the game were treated to a strong defensive performance by the entire team peppered with moments of offensive brilliance. As much as I would like to see a more sustained attack, I think this is just how this team is going to play - and since itís gotten them to a 4-0-1 record and to the top of the WUSA standings, itís probably a pretty good way to go. The Freedom dominated possession in this one, but as weíve seen all season, that possession is through the midfield and rarely gets into the attacking third. There were so many times where the Freedom would string together 5 or 6 passes in the back and around the midfield stripe and then just fail to push the ball forward - itís not just the last pass thatís lacking, itís an organized effort or ability to get the ball forward in an organized sustained attack - I think itís the lack of a true attacking midfielder, or simply not letting the one on the field, Lori Lindsey, run the offense. That said, I donít think it matters. Gabarra said outright earlier in the week that the way to succeed in the WUSA is team defending, so thatís apparently what theyíre focusing and relying on. The Freedomís team defending improves each and every week and so far theyíve shown the ability to create enough chances and to be extraordinarily efficient with the real chances they create to get it done. Iím sure as the season progresses theyíll work on making some of that possession a bit more productive. Even in the second half of this one the pace of play picked up significantly. I think the Freedom showed that theyíre a team sitting on a very strong foundation in this one and I hope to see them continue to build on it as the season progresses.

As for the Charge - well, I donít know what to say without getting blasted by Charge fans. Their offense is ineffective (I know, Pichon and Smith were out, Iím just calling this game as I saw it though), their individual defending is lacking, their team defending is non-existent, the Freedom turnovers were more a result of stringing together too many non-productive passes and then someone eventually passing behind her intended target than anything the Charge was doing . . . I donít know, Iím looking at the team that in the first two seasons was one of the least talented, yet best coached and disciplined and Iím just not seeing that at all - not even a tiny little vestige of that. Itís not that they were awful, they really werenít - there is reason to hope theyíll right the ship in the not too distant future. Itís just that you watch them and itís just kind of blah. Thereís nothing happening, not offensively, not defensively. I know, not the most technical analysis Iíve ever done, but watching this team it just looked like 11 bodies on the field, kind of like bumpers in bumper pool, not really the organized well oiled machine Iím accustomed to seeing when the Charge comes to town. I donít know whether itís Pia, whether itís Iverson, whether itís all the new personnel, but there is just no defensive shape to this team at all, very little concerted effort on the attack and really, minus that very well executed tricky little play on the corner that left Tietjen wide open in the box for the goal, there wasnít a lot notable, either good or bad, that happened in this game for the Charge. Maybe it was just a lethargic kind of a day. Frankly the Freedom almost put me to sleep in the first half as well, but even if their offense gets going upon Smithís and Pichonís respective returns someone has got to take charge of that defense. There is simply no one calling the defense and the one thing that was truly a given with this team, good strong team defense all over the field, is simply gone.


Freedom (4-5-1 back-front, right-left): GK - Mullinix; Def - S. Little, C. Moore, Grubb, Barr; DMid - Stoecker, Jones, Mid - J. Little, Lindsey, Hamm (one of these middies, more often than not Mia, was generally pushing forward and even with Abby, they were doing a much better job of that than against Atlanta, but when they reorganized offensively and defensively such that you could see their shape, they were all definitely playing behind her); F - Wambach. Subs - Golebiowski in for Lindsey and they seemed to switch back to their 4-2-2-2 with Little, then Schott playing up front - Golebiowski played out left, Mia shifted central/right; Schott in for J. Little, Zimny in for Hamm.

Charge (4-5-1 back-front, right-left): GK - M. Moore; D - Mitts, McVeigh, Tietjen, Benson; DMid - Makinen, Tullock; Mid - Misaki, Hoffman, Monroe; F - Arrington. Kruze in for Tullock, Maso de Moya in for Monroe, Borisjuk in for Misaki.

Freedom Players

Mullinix - Still not enjoying what Dave Vanole is trying to do to her kicking game. I was watching them warming up and heís having her practice those lower, shorter kicks, but weíve seen it for 5 games now, come game time, she just muffs those. And in this one, the wet field was a definite factor. Luckily she pretty much just smashed the ball upfield or started things off by tossing the ball to her defenders after a few muffs in this one. I think the better adjustment is to simply have someone playing up with Abby rather than pulling Abby back to win those balls. The percentage of the balls off Siriís foot that Abby wins has got to be in the 70s or 80s so I say you be a bit more aggressive rather than pulling it back. Those quick counters are killers and while a quick anything was kinda absent in this one, the absence of quick counter attacks was most glaring. As for her goalkeeping - solid. Made a couple of stops that had me going wow but sheís spoiled me, I expect this from her at this point. Philly might have scored one or two more against a lesser goalkeeper, but honestly, Siri was facing less of a barrage than usual in this one. Her defense was as solid as they have been all year. As for the goal, that corner kick play tricked everyone - I donít think a single Freedom player on the field read it right, Philly drew all the defenders out of the box and put it back in to Tietjen. Tietjen had a free shot at Siri and in that situation, the attacker should and did win. Wide open in the box just a few feet from goal, that ballís going in and the Charge executed it very well.

S. Little - Solid game. Nice pass on the assist to Abby for the second goal. To be honest, at the time I thought it was Jacqui - tough to tell those little blonde girls apart from across the field especially since they are so similar in stature and the way the carry themselves, but the box score says it was Skylar so she gets the kudos for nailing the big girl in the head in the box. It was a great ball into the box, put high enough so that only her player would get to it and great awareness of where Abby was. You canít draw those up any nicer. As for her defending, it was solid, thought a lot more of the Charge attack was going through the middle and to the Freedom left though. Nice game, I donít have much else.

Moore - As with the entire defense it was a solid game. Yes, she did get beat more than a few times, but that just gave us the opportunity to see why it is you play a 4 back. Arrington and even Hoffman and at times Mak just carry a bit more speed than Moore does. But she doesnít panic, she just stays with the play, puts the player where she wants, generally to her outside and stays with it until help arrives. A couple of times Ms. Grubb had to arrive in spectacular fashion, but the organization and poise on defense was strong in this one. There were no defenders out there trying to stop the play on their own, it was rare when Arrington was in the attacking third and not surrounded by two players instead of one. I like this Freedom defensive unit and through a high workrate and understanding her own strengths and weaknesses Moore makes her role in this unit work even though sheís commonly playing against folks with a bit more athleticism than she has.

Grubb - Outstanding game - if not for that Wambach girl, she would be my player of the match. Just the prototypical central defender - if youíre drawing one up in the shop, Grubb is whatís on your blue print. She was swarming in there with the double team all day long. This is why you play four in the back - thereís always someone available to double team. In this one the defense and defensive midfielders were very organized and Grubb has to get some credit for that, especially since she not only organized the defense, but was the one swooping in in just the nick of time more than a couple of times. There was one instance where Emmy was getting beat, yet ran the attacker to her outside and Grubb swooped in and absorbed the brunt of a shot. There was a very similar play where Moore was getting beat and Grubb came out of nowhere to absorb that shot - sheís gonna have a few welts, but this is what team defending is about. One defender puts the attacker where she wants her, the second defender comes in and dispossesses her. True, you usually like that attacker to get dispossessed before she tees it up and shoots, but sometimes the attackers are too good - and here, they stopped a couple of balls in just the nick of time, but the fact remains, Grubb got in there and stopped them. Good stuff and I kind of like that the player whose efforts donít always get the attention they should got to make a couple of spectacular stops. There were probably a dozen more fundamentally sound and very quiet plays she made in this one, but those two are the highlight reel ones and the ones that will make people appreciate what she provides out there. Good stuff - typical Jen Grubb game and itís good to see that the entire defense is coming together the way it is.

Barr - Another one who I thought had a fantastic outing. Her workrate was terrific, especially in the first half. Not using her speed very effectively was concerning me the last time I did one of these, and those concerns have been alleviated. She was up and down that left sideline all game long and the only thing that came close to slowing her down was getting pummeled by Siri in the late going (honestly though, Siri needs to do that, taking charge of her box like that is necessary - keeps miscommunications from resulting in goals - sorry Emmy got hit, but thatís just going to happen sometimes). Offensively she was getting forward nicely and actually connecting fairly well with the middies, especially Mia. She was one of the few making lateral passes rather than back passes but I was a little disappointed she didnít put many crosses in the box. The whole team needs to work on speeding up the passing a bit - speed of play offensively remains a huge issue for this team, too many players just hold onto the ball way too long. Strong game though, she looked as good as she has all season in this one.

Stoecker - A solid outing. She was providing great defensive support to the back line. This game reminded me a lot of her play as a central defender in year one. She was double teaming and helping to contain Arrington beautifully. She was winning balls in the air both defensively and offensively. Really wasnít a big part of the offense at all though. Freedom play very conservatively and since Jones was pushing to the top of the midfield a lot in this one, I think Stoeck was pretty deliberately hanging back. I donít really have much, my most vivid memories of her in this one were helping Moore out in the back and dispossessing Mak a time or two - Makís not quite as easy to bump off the ball as she used to be but watching Stoeck go after her, it was obvious she knew exactly how to play her. Guess thatís the one advantage of having so many ex-Freedom players starting for other teams - our defenders know how to play them. Solid effort, thereís little else to say.

Jones - Tell me there wasnít a little gamesmanship going on between Jones and Hoffman - I find it hard to believe itís coincidence they kept winding up covering each other 1 v. 1. It was fun to watch. Jones managed to dribble around her and through her and dispossess her a few times. Hoffman came up with the ball a couple of times as well - they each seemed to be enjoying dribbling in the others face though. Itís fun watching players playing their countrywomen with whom they are so familiar. As for the rest of her game, well like everyone else, I thought Steffiís individual and team defending was great. I also thought she was getting forward really well too. The problem is what she was doing when she got forward with the ball - she kept passing back or holding onto the ball too long. I expect this from Lindsey and J. Little, I donít expect this from Steffi. My favorite Steffi play of the game was that shot she ripped at goal - was a little high but I loved the thought of it. Sheís got a strong shot and it baffles me why she doesnít take it more often. For instance, Abby had one brilliant sequence in the waning minutes where she out ran Mitts, double back and dribbled around Mitts, dribbled around McVeigh and then pounded it into Steffi - and Steffi didnít shoot - Steffi should have shot - she did this all game, she would push forward and push forward and get in prime position with the ball, then turn around and pass back. Itís driving me nuts - they have got to look toward goal and be more aggressive than that. Really, this game should have been far more lopsided than it was - at least shot-wise if not goal-wise, but the Freedom are too slow making a decision with the ball and finally are left shooting into defenders or turning around and passing back and passing back and passing back some more until they eventually turn it over. Speed of play and decision making on offense is something for the whole team to work on. Even in a very conservative offense, theyíve got to make more of their possession in the back and deep in the midfield than theyíve been making. Overall, nice game though and the Hoffman-Jones mini-battles made for some entertaining viewing.

J. Little - Well - in the first half she was playing in the midfield for the most part. What I found interesting, since supposedly Mia is the midfielder so Jacqui can play up top, is that of the three middies, Jacqui pushed forward least. Mia was running even with Abby half the first half and was falling back on D. Lori Lindsey was also aggressively pushing forward with Abby - Little was not. With Jacqui Iím having the issues I always have with her. I definitely appreciate the effort she puts out, she does some nice things out there, but she holds onto the ball so ridiculously long. There was one instance where I was sitting there saying "put it through, put it through, put it through Jacqui"and then boom, Abby gets caught offside. That happens all the time - honestly, with the Freedom, all offsides calls in the stat report should be "_____ offside because ______ held onto the ball for a month and wouldnít put her through." Very little frustrates me more, Abby held up on that run too, knowing it takes Jacqui a minute to see things but dang, Jacqui just holds on to the ball for a month. She always does - Iíve said it before, I will probably say it again before Iím done with this thing, they have got to push forward more quickly. For the speed of play to be as slow as it was in the first half of this one is pretty ridiculous - even early in the season. And seeing the second half of this one, itís ringing pretty hollow that the Freedom are playing like this to put their best players on the field - everything ratcheted up several notches when Golebiowski got in there - at 4-0-1 itís tough to change anything, but I think putting Kelly G in the game from the start will only improve things. Jacqui showed in this one sheís just as adept playing in the attacking midfield as she is up top so sheíll be able to sub in at any of 4 positions. Sheíll get plenty of playing time, letís make the change. They can still play their conservative set, just put more offensively adept players in there in the early going. All that said, not really a bad outing, just a quiet one where her limitations speed of play-wise were evident. Iím still thinking sheíd best be used as a second half spark off the bench.

Lindsey - if J. Littleís not the one to find the bench, maybe we need to think about sitting Lori. Fact of the matter is, the Freedom donít really use a traditional attacking midfielder - theyíve got forwards playing in the midfield - they donít have a singular player responsible for running the offense and distributing the ball. This is what Lindsey does, sheís not being utilized in that fashion so itís tough for her to shine in this system. Maybe Golebiowski should be in for Lori. She was having the same passing issues everyone else was having, passing back and passing back and holding onto the ball way too long. As I hinted above and will go on and on about below, the speed of play from everyone got much much less plodding after the Aussie entered the match. Just like Little, it wasnít a bad performance, it was just a quiet one. When the Freedom got her my questions werenít really about her as much as whether the Freedom would properly utilize a player like her - Freedom didnít play in a fashion that accentuated Anne Makís strengths and theyíre not playing in a fashion that really lets Lindsey shine either. I just donít know if thereís a role for a player like her in this offense - Anne Makís comments on her way out of town make me think thereís not and I havenít seen anything in these first 5 games that makes me think this is going to change any time soon or even that it should. Unfortunate for Lori and I donít doubt sheíll continue to get plenty of playing time, but hopefully she can find a way to contribute more significantly as the season continues.

Hamm - you donít draw them up any better than that corner kick in the 7th minute. Picture perfect kick right to Abbyís noggin and goal. Great stuff - doesnít hurt that Abbyís not just tall, but big and strong and with good ups. I also liked how aggressively Mia was pushing forward. The first time they pulled this 4-5-1 out a huge problem was that there were no players moving forward with her. Mia made sure that didnít happen in this one often playing further forward than even Abby was playing. Her workrate is such that she was back on D every time she needed to be. I didnít think Miaís passing was a whole lot sharper than that of the other middies and could tell she was getting a little frustrated that when she gave the ball up she wouldnít see it again - Iím thinking they need to do some sort of quick one touch give and go drills during practice. I just get the feeling both Mia and Abby would be thrilled to touch that ball to Jacqui, Lori or Steffi and see it magically emerge into space about 8-10 feet ahead of them - I imagine theyíd think that was the best thing ever. I also noticed the whole team was passing behind their intended targets - Abby was the culprit on one notable one - Mia was ready to take off and then had to double back and get the ball. Happened all game long though - maybe they just need to work on some passing drills generally. Yes, they connected on a lot laterally and back, but when they started pushing forward, a lot of the passes were behind their targets - and Iíve already mentioned that particular repeated misplay was responsible for a lot of their lost possession as well. Not really a lot more to say about Miaís individual game. She really didnít have just a ton of touches, she was strong on set pieces, great workrate. I still canít help but wonder if this team would look even better if she was playing closer to goal. Like I said, itís not like sheís really playing an attacking midfielderís role - sheís simply playing forward from the midfield. Iím not sure why she never gets any time up top. Itís obviously where sheíd be most effective. Theyíve got a good record though - and while no big changes are in order, I donít think shifting around the personnel to best utilize everyone would be that huge a change, but I think it a significant enough change that the offense would start to look as strong as the team defense has.

Wambach - Great game. Sheís so efficient with her chances in the box. Sheís also as dominant in the air as any player in the game today. Whether it be in the box or winning 50-50 balls, sheís got the ups, sheís got the timing, and sheís got the size to win just about anything she goes after. Those goals were almost too easy. On those first two goals she wasnít unmarked, the ball was simply put to her in a spot where only she could get it and do anything with it. As for her third goal - well, for me that goal was everything wrong with the Charge this year. About 5-10 minutes earlier there had been a sequence (aka my favorite Abby sequence of the game) where Abby outran Mitts to the ball, pulled back, did some fancy dribbling, went around Mitts, pulled out even more fancy dribbling and got around McVeigh and put the ball into Steffi, the ball bounced around amongst a couple more players when it found a wide open Abby all alone in the box - Abby had all the time in the world to tee it up and shoot and Moore made a terrific save on it. Fast forward to the sequence leading up to the goal - Schott and Golebiowski are raising a ruckus right in front of goal, someone shoots, Moore makes another great save and the ball falls to . . . Abby Wambach who, for the second time in the last ten minutes of the game, was . . . all . . . alone . . . wide . . . .open . . . in . . . the box. Itís a huge mistake to leave Abby Wambach unmarked in the box even once in the last 10 minutes of the game, but for it to happen twice is inexcusable. Thereís simply no one reading and organizing that defense - the blonde defender sitting on the turf and who wouldnít get up (was that Benson?) knew it too. Abby was wide open on that goal, Philly dodged a bullet in almost identical circumstances less than 10 minutes earlier - itís going to be a real long season for Philadelphia if they donít get someone in there to organize that defense and make sure the most dangerous offensive player on the field for the other guys isnít standing all alone, wide open, less than 12 feet from the keeper. Abby also had a great game pressuring the defenders. She was perpetual motion in the first half - probably only Grubb and maybe Barr had a higher workrate. Just a strong strong outing all the way around.

Golebiowski - the speed of play in the first half was very slow - some might say plodding, especially with all the Freedom back passing. Everything ratcheted up a notch - or two or three - once Kelly got in there. Did she have as good an outing as she did last time? No - not even close. However, thereís no denying the impact her very presence had on the game. Sheís an explosive player, and she has a very frenetic pace to just about everything she does out there and that seemed to push the pace of play for the whole team. Iíd love to see her in from the start of the game to see what kind of noise the Freedom offense could make with her and Mia out on the field together for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. I realize this team is not going to go away from the conservative way theyíre playing, and thatís fine, 4-0-1 no major changes are in order - but I do think putting explosive players into the conservative sets they have would be a great way to build on the great start theyíve had and to sustain it through the season. If I thought sheíd give less defensively than either Lindsey or Little, I wouldnít be stumping for this change, but I think sheíll provide all they do and then some. Sheís got a great workrate, has shown sheís a pretty tenacious defender, and not afraid of physical play. I hope we see her in the starting line up soon. As for her play - I really donít have a lot. She and Schott were both a handful in the late going and that led to Abbyís last goal. Nice outing once again and sheís a very exciting player from whom Iíd like to see much much more.

Schott - I thought she had a rock solid outing once again. Didnít notice any drop off in play once she came in for Little and I think given the opportunity she could challenge Jacqui for playing time. I think her speed of play might be a bit better than Jacquiís - she definitely has a lot more youth national team experience than Jacqui had and I think it shows. Sheís able to combine a bit better with the international level players on the team. Schott had a tough senior season at Cal but sheís definitely showed a bit of what a lot of us fan types thought sheíd become these last two games. Nice performance, she was a huge part of the Freedom push to end the game. Since the Freedom had been going into their shells and looking to escape from games in the games prior to this one, it was especially satisfying to see them still attacking in the late going. They werenít doing it stupidly, though, and had numbers back for the last 10 minutes or so but they didnít play 10 players behind the ball like they had been. That was good to see and speaks to the confidence this team is getting.

Zimny - Late Goal Zimny managed to come in and not give one up again. If she manages to keep from causing a late game score her next time in the game, I will officially retire her nickname. Thatís about all Iíve got for her. Didnít notice her a whole lot - she was clogging up the middle a bit though. And when you come in for the last 5 minutes and youíre the defensive sub, your main goal is not to screw up and she didnít. So, since I tend to give her a hard time, Iíll give her a solid game and leave it at that.

Charge Players

All right - as usual, I donít have just a ton on the other guys - and since Iíve probably so annoyed the Charge fans to the point that theyíre not reading anymore, Iím going to make some general comments about the defense and the offense and call it a night - thereís no other way for me to finish this tonight and I donít want to leave it until Wednesday.

M. Moore - ya know - itís tough being a keeper when your defense keeps leaving Abby Wambach open in the box. She made a terrific save on the first one Abby teed up and fired at her, but the last one in stoppage, she was already down - she flopped over and tried to get to it, but Abby just slotted it in - wide open, they just let her tee it up and shoot . . . in the last 10 minutes . . . twice . . . dang. For me, thatís a goal scored on the defense, not on the keeper. As for the two headers - those were just great goals. Again, defense could have played her tougher, but sheís taller, stronger and with better ups than just about anyone on the Charge appears to have other than Tullock. Not a lot they could do. Regarding the PK - ya know, I didnít really get a good enough look at it to have an opinion on that call. I will say that in the first half Seitz was letting them play - she was letting Philly pummel Abby and was letting the Freedom pummel whoever they wanted. It wasnít a real physical game, but for me, once you set the bar and have established that youíre letting them play itís got to be a real bad foul by the keeper to call it in the box like that. I simply didnít see it clearly enough to have an opinion if this was such a foul, but I did notice from that point on, the game was being called much tighter than it had been. All I ever want from a ref is consistency, and Iím not sure if calling a PK foul on the keeper in her own box after letting the field players pummel Abby for a half and a bit is putting them on fair notice. But then again, for all I could see, Moore might have taken a shot at her, I just donít know. I saw she came down on her head, and I wouldnít think that would have been enough to call a foul on the keeper, but thatís about all I could see from where I was.

Defense: Well - the individual defending has weakened. Last year one thing you could depend on from this unit is some tough, physical, smart defending. That just wasnít here in this one. They were getting run over and run by. They werenít organized on defense so it was generally 1 v. 1 defending, they werenít helping each other out at all. While the Freedomís speed was buried in the midfield and not too terribly dangerous, they simply couldnít handle Abbyís size 1 v. 1 and they didnít adjust the way they were playing her the whole game . . . and they kept losing her - how do you lose Wambach? In the box? In the last 10 minutes? Twice? This defense simply isnít playing smart right now. During the NY-Philly game I listened to the midfield get skewered for their powder puff defensive play but frankly, I donít see these defenders playing any tougher than the middies - in fact, Anne Mak, the notoriously soft I donít want anyone to touch me Anne Mak, got the best licks in all game long for Philly. Ya know, Iíve heard "well, Piaís gone," Iíve heard "Iverson was the heart and the toughness" and it just rings hollow. Jenny Benson and Heather Mitts - for the first two years of the league all Mitts and Benson were all-WUSA caliber defenders and last year Tietjen joined them up and continued the standard - they were among the most reliable players any team had week in and week out and now they are simply not getting it done - theyíre not playing smart, theyíre not playing the way we have seen them play the last two years. Enough excuses and moaning about whoís not there - itís gut check time for this whole team, but especially for this unit. And yes, I know Iím being hard on them - thatís because theyíre better than this - we all know theyíre better than this and theyíre using the "itís a new system" "we miss Erica" garbage as a crutch and if they donít do something soon, theyíre going to be using that crutch to limp through the whole season and thereís just no reason for it.

All right - I think that faint glow I see in the distance is the Charge fans burning me in effigy . . . .

Offense - Not really a lot more organized on offense than they were on defense. Occasionally Arrington and Hoffman would touch the ball and youíd hold your breath for a minute in the hope/fear that one of them was going to make something happen - and sometimes they did, but there really wasnít a concerted, organized attack in this one. Arrington is a brilliant bunch of raw talent, but that talent is raw. And Hoffman really doesnít seem to trust any of her young American teammates and was trying to do way too much on her own. All that I can understand though - their offense was absent from this game - it will undoubtedly improve when they get their personnel back. I look forward to seeing Hoffman out there with Smith and Pichon - undoubtedly a dangerous combination - the NY game showed that itís a dangerous combination. If the Freedom had to deal with Smith, Pichon and Hoffman and then had Arrington as a zippy little role player rather than the star attraction, this might have been a very different game. So I really have little to say - I think I went on about their defense because thatís it - thatís who they are and thereís no reason for them to be so much less than they were last year. Offensively, Smith and Pichon werenít here so just about any comments I could make are going to be moot upon their return.

OK - apologies again to the folks looking for a full game report - I just ran out of time this week and I really didnít have much to say about Philly anyway. There was about a 30-40 minute stretch in the middle of this game that was snoozeworthy so it kind of limited my comments a bit. Hopefully this was an aberrant performance from the Charge. I know theyíre a better team than what they showed in this game, I especially know this is a better defense than what they showed in this game. Seeing Jenny Benson (I think it was her - it was one of those three blonde defenders, about that I have no doubt) sitting in the box as the game ended, itís easy to see that she knows theyíre better than theyíre playing - maybe this will be a turning point for them and theyíll start playing like they should. As for the Freedom - ahhhhh, good times to be a Freedom fan thatís for sure. Strong game defensively, nice individual performance from the big girl in the middle and the best news is that the team is 4-0-1 and thereís still significant room for improvement. Hopefully this run at the start of the season will give them confidence to carry them through the whole season. Now - if someone could just figure out how to turn Mother Nature into a soccer fan . . . then I think weíd be set . . .