2009: 8-7-5, 29 pts.; third place regular season (lost in semifinal)
Coach: Jim Gabarra
Key Players: Sonia Bompastor, Abby Wambach, Cat Whitehill, Lisa De Vanna, Erin McLeod, Brittany Bock, Homare Sawa
Star Watch: Sonia Bompastor – The French midfielder was arguably the best player on this team in 2009 and her absence was clear in the Freedom’s semifinal playoff loss to Sky Blue FC. Wambach and De Vanna might be the goal scorers, but Bompastor is the life of this team.
X-Factor: Homare Sawa – Sawa was an unsung hero in 2009, playing in every minute for Washington. She wore the captain’s armband often during preseason and combined with Bompastor in the midfield, Sawa should maintain a solid midfield for the Freedom.
Head Coach Jim Gabarra will feel disappointed with the Washington Freedom’s semifinal loss to Sky Blue FC in 2009 after finishing third in the WPS regular season. The inconsistency that the Freedom showed throughout the season came back to bite the team, though. Washington both scored the most goals in the league and gave up the most goals in WPS (32 for and 32 against, for a goal differential of zero). Erin McLeod was stellar in net at times, but her and a defense in front of her anchored by U.S. defender Cat Whitehill were involved in some barn-burners, including a 4-4 tie against Sky Blue FC on July 15 and a 3-2 loss to last place FC Gold Pride on August 1. The addition of Brittany Bock and Nikki Marshall should help solidify that backline.
Up top, this team is still stellar. The goal scoring machine that is Abby Wambach returns alongside Australian forward Lisa De Vanna, who put together a solid 2009 season with six goals and five assists. Rebecca Moros Lene Mykjaland will help in the attack and stalwarts Homare Sawa and Becky Sauerbrunn, who were the only two Freedom players to see action in every single minute in 2009, will have high expectations. Washington should put together another solid season, but the team is a bit of a dark horse right now. It falls somewhere in between teams expected to do really well and teams expected to struggle. That lack of pressure could be beneficial to the Freedom as 2010 rolls on.
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