Independence get first win of season

Washington Freedom star forward Abby Wambach goes up high over Philadelphia Independence defender Nikki Krzysik to head the ball. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

It took Amy Rodriguez a long time, but the Independence's star forward finally got her first goal of the year Sunday night.

Rodriguez's 53rd-minute smash from 25 yards out propelled the Independence to a 3-1 win over the Washington Freedom at Farrell Stadium in West Chester.

Unfortunately, I wasn't at the game, but my Philly.com colleague Litty Samuel was. She put together a video with highlights and analysis from the Inquirer's Marc Narducci. You can watch it in the player at right.

You can also read Marc's game recap here, and check out photos from Clem Murray above.

The Independence needed to come away with three points at home after opening the season with two draws. They got the win, and just as importantly did so coming from behind.

After a scoreless first half, the Freedom got the game's first goal in the 50th minute. U.S. national team star Abby Wambach played a cross from the left side to Lisa DeVanna, who beat Independence goalkeeper Val Henderson with a simple finish.

Wambach has four assists this season, which is an impressive tally for a player much more renowned for scoring goals.

Rodriguez tied the game three minutes later. She trapped a long pass from Holmfridur Magnusdotter, then launched a shot from distance past the Freedom's Brianna Scurry.

Four minutes later, Allison Falk put Philadelphia in front by heading in Lori Lindsey's free kick. Liane Sanderson sealed the win in the 67th minute, heading in a cross from Lindsey.

That's three quality goals in a game played on artificial turf in a driving rainstorm. Independence coach Paul Riley said at the beginning of the season that he thought his team needed a few more weeks to start playing cohesively, and it seems like that's finally starting to happen.

We've known all season that the Independence has a strong spine, as the late coaching legend Brian Clough woudl call it. The heart of the team runs from goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc to defender Heather Mitts, midfielders Caroline Seger and Lori Lindsey, and Amy Rodriguez up front.

Now looks like a new threat is emerging: defender Allison Falk's presence on set pieces. Falk's goal Sunday night was her second in as many games, and both came from free kicks.

I'm planning to head out to West Chester this coming Saturday for the Independence's game against Atlanta. We'll see if the team can keep its momentum going.

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