Last night’s stunning comeback victory against the Washington Freedom added yet another twist to the fantastic tale that is that of the Philadelphia Independence. The 3-2 win elevates the Indies/PHIINDY/the Cheesesteaks’ to 21 points, just one point behind FC Gold Pride who host Sky Blue FC in a few hours. The victory also furthers the chasm in the standings between them and the Washington Freedom who are now five points behind Philadelphia.
The Freedom’s disastrous second-half collapse in which they conceded all three goals is an indicator of just how dangerous this Philadelphia team can be. After a flat first half that saw both Lene Mykaland score after just 45 seconds and Abby Wambach bury a penalty, Philadelphia came roaring back with inspiration and endeavor. Amy Rodriguez hit two goals in quick succession before Lianne Sanderson beat Erin McLeod in the 92′. Their efforts were duly rewarded as they earned their fourth result in five matches.
If there’s one player who deserves the spoils of this victory, it has to be Amy Rodriguez. After all, she scored Philadelphia’s opening two goals in trademark A-Rod fashion. For the first, Tina DiMartino found Rodriguez behind the defense and the striker made the most of it with a one-timed left-footed shot across goal. Just ten minutes later, Jen Buczkowski found Rodriguez over the top once again. After a touch, Rodriguez dispatched a low shot into the back of the net.
Rodriguez’s speed burned Washington’s typically solid back four as she was able to slip in behind them, control the ball perfectly and strike with clean precision. With her sixth goal of the season, she now ties Marta with the most goals scored in WPS; an incredible achievement for a player many thought was a professional bust.
Perhaps Rodriguez is flourishing under Paul Riley’s management. Some have compared his coaching style to that of Pia Sundhage in his emphasis on player relations and positive enforcement. Whatever it is, his players are clearly operating with confidence and self-belief. This is self-evident in last night’s recovery from the brink.