December 29, 2010
THE YEAR’S TOP STORIES - #3
Independence make it to championship game
Only two expansion teams in American pro soccer history ever won their league championship: the Philadelphia Atoms of the North American Soccer League in 1973 and the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer in 1998. That the Philadelphia Independence of Women’s Professional Soccer almost became the third ranks third on the Philly Soccer News list of the top ten local stories of 2010.
|Lori Lindsey and the Philadelphia Independence overcame a late-season slump to make it to the WPS championship game.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
After running neck and neck with eventual champion Bay Area Gold Pride for most of the season atop the league standings, the Independence faltered in the last month, falling to third place and then having to take a arduous route to the championship game. Their postseason opened with a grueling 1-0 home win over the Washington Freedom, decided by an Amy Rodriguez goal in the 120th minute, just before the game was headed to penalty kicks.
Then, three nights later, Paul Riley’s team gutted out another overtime victory, against the second-seeded Boston Breakers. The Independece advanced 13 minutes into the extra time, on a goal by Danesha Adams.
In the end, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach took the Philadelphia Independence all the way to California for the WPS championship game, but was no match for the 11-seater Porsche that was FC Gold Pride, who put on a clinic on their way to a 4-0 win in front of their home fans at Pioneer Stadium.
The Independence’s inaugural season in WPS was memorable on several fronts, from the entertaining brand of soccer coach Riley put on the field, to challenging for the title, to the revival of players under Riley’s tutelage, most notably Rodriguez, who was a legitimate MVP candidate after finishing third in the league in scoring behind Bay Area’s Marta and Washington’s Abby Wambach, and midfielder Lori Lindsey, whose strong play for the Independence earned her a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Team for Women’s World Cup qualifying.