Friday, December 26, 2014

Rodriguez's last-minute winner sends Independence to playoff semifinals

It's been an impressive debut season for the Independence, and the reward for their third-place finish is a home playoff game

Rodriguez's last-minute winner sends Independence to playoff semifinals

For the first 119 minutes and change, Amy Rodriguez missed more easy chances than anyone was able to keep track of.

But in the very last seconds of the second extra time period, Rodriguez finally found the back of the net. Her goal was the only one of the day, and it gave the Independence a 1-0 win over the Washington Freedom in the opening round of the Women's Professional Soccer playoffs at Farrell Stadium in West Chester.

There was plenty of back-and-forth action, though the very narrow pitch (65 yards at most) meant that the midfields were fairly constrained. Philadelphia had most of the possession and chances in the 90 minutes of regulation. Freedom goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made a couple of nice saves, but Rodriguez also missed a few times from close range. She also hit the post with the net wide open late in the second half.

Washington had a few chances, though on the whole the Independence's defense did a good job of container star Freedom striker Abby Wambach. She was rarely open in the box, and was often trapped farther up the field with her back to goal.

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So it was off to extra time, and the Union fans among you would certainly have been forgiven for thinking Washington would strike on the counter. The Freedom were never really able to produce the kinds of chances that the Independence did, though. And finally, in the very last seconds of extra time, Rodriguez struck the winner.

Philadelphia now moves on to face Rodriguez's old team, the Boston Breakers, in the second round of the playoffs Thursday night at Harvard Stadium.

If you did not get to see the match on TV, it will re-air on Fox Soccer Channel starting at 6 p.m. We'll have to wait to find out whether they sqeezed the 2 hours and 30 minutes of play into a two-hour time slot.

You can read the transcript of my live blog from this afternoon below. There's a video report from West Chetster by my Philly.com colleague Dave Isaac in the player at right, and there are more game highlights here.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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