Allie Long scored what could prove to be one of the most important goals of the Women's Professional Soccer season when the former Penn State and North Carolina star scored in the 89th minute to give the Washington Freedom to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Red Stars that moved it into a tie with Sky Bue FC for fourth place. The loss ended sixth-place Chicago's slim playoff hopes.
The Freedom has a game in hand on Sky Blue FC and holds the edge in the tiebreaker, though the final playoff berth could be decided when they meet Aug. 8 in their season finale at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Washington's Abby Wambach scored two goals sandwiched around goals by Megan Rapinoe and Karen Carney before Long decided the contest with her late goal.
"I think our team is starting to gel a little bit more," said Wambach. "I know that I had an 800-pound gorilla on my back considering the national team 100-goal thing. Then I just have been playing pretty well and free. I've been getting on the end of some good balls hit by my teammates. This is the time of the season that you want to peak."
In other weekend action, Boston and Sky Blue played to a 0-0 tie, and Saint Louis had to settle for a 1-1 tie with FC Gold Pride that kept the second-place Athletica from clinching a playoff berth.
July 22 in St. Louis
St. Louis 1 Sky Blue FC 0.Goal: Aluko 5.
St. Louis - Loyden, Weber, Larsson, Ellertson, McNeill, Fletcher, Chalupny, Woznuk, Cinalli (Stoia, 71), Cross (Walsh, 56), Aluko (Logterman, 94+).
Sky Blue FC - Branam, Schnur, Hooker (Sesselman, 92+), Dowling, Buczkowski, Averbuch, McCallum, Sitch (Hanks, 69), Rosana (Keselica, 75), White, Kai.
Yellow Cards: Sky Blue FC - Kai 42
Referee: Kari Seitz.
July 24 in Santa Clara, Calif.
FC Gold Pride 0 Los Angeles 0.
FC Gold Pride - Whitworth, Robinson, Graczyk, Dew, Barnes, Formiga, DiMartino, Osborne, Chastain (Yokers, 80), Milbrett, Adriane (Massengale, 90).
Los Angeles - LeBlanc, Makoski, Nonen, Bock, Sanchez, Wagner (Zerboni, 77), Abily, Sari (Boxx, 46), Miyama, Duan, Marta.
Yellow Cards: Los Angeles - LeBlanc 79.
Referee: Felisha Mariscal.
July 25 in Cambridge, Mass.
Boston 0 Sky Blue FC 0.
Boston - Lipsher, Scott, Augustyniak, LePeilbet, Mitts, Schmedes, Hucles, Tomecka, Lilly, Nobis (Rodriguez, 62; Latham, 77), Fabiana (Crumpton, 58).
Sky Blue FC - Branam, Buczkowski, Dowling, Asante, Schnur, O'Reilly, Rosana (Keselica, 59), McCallum, Parker, Hanks (Sitch, 65), White.
Yellow Cards: Sky Blue FC - Asante 84.
Referee: Daniel Fitzgerald.
July 26 in Bridgeview, Ill.
Chicago 2 Washington 3.Goals: Rapinoe (Lloyd) 15, Carney (Garriock) 69; Wambach (Bompastor) 35, Wambach (DeVanna,) 56, Long 89.
Chicago - Jonsson, Dalmy, Oakes, Dieke, Spilger (Ostberg, 61), Carney, Lloyd, Klein, Rapinoe (Masar, 55), Tarpley (Garriock, 68), Cristiane.
Washington - McLeod, Gilbeau, Whitehill, Sauerbrunn, Singer (Long, 74), Moros (Lohman, 81), Sawa, Lindsey, Bompastor, Wambach, De Vanna.
Yellow Cards: Chicago - Rapinoe 31; Washington - Bompastor 90.
Referee: Sandra Serafini.
July 26 in St. Louis
St. Louis 1 FC Gold Pride 1.Goals: Cross (Fletcher) 28; Sinclair (DiMartino) 87.
St. Louis - Solo, McNeill (Tancredi, 73), Ellertson, Larsson (Logterman, 45), Weber, Chalupny, Fletcher, Cinalli, Woznuk, Aluko, Cross (Walsh, 66).
FC Gold Pride - Barnhart, Robinson, Dew (Arakawa, 83), Graczyk, Buehler, Chastain (Yokers, 67), Osborne, DiMartino, Formiga, Sinclair, Milbrett (Adriane, 78).
Yellow Cards: St. Louis - Larsson 21; FC Gold Pride - Buehler 85.
Referee: Bryan Roslund.
TEAM W L T GF GA P
Los Angeles 11 2 5 24 6 38
St. Louis 8 6 3 15 14 27
Boston 7 6 4 17 16 25
Washington 6 6 5 26 28 23
Sky Blue FC 6 7 5 16 17 23
Chicago 4 9 5 15 22 17
FC Gold Pride 3 9 5 13 23 14
Marta (Los Angeles) 9
Camille Abily (Los Angeles) 8
Cristiane (Chicago) 6
Christine Sinclair (FC Gold Pride) 6
Kelly Smith (Boston) 5
Natasha Kai (Sky Blue FC) 5
Lisa De Vanna (Washington) 5
Abby Wambach (Washington) 5
Eniola Aluko (St. Louis) 5
Sonia Bompastor (Washington) 4
Wednesday, July 29
Washington vs. Boston, 8 pm ET (CSN)
Saturday, August 1
FC Gold Pride vs. Washington, 6 pm ET
Saint Louis vs. Boston, 8 pm ET
Sunday, August 2
Chicago vs. Los Angeles, 6 pm ET (FSC)
Wednesday, August 5
Sky Blue FC vs. FC Gold Pride, 7 pm ET
Saint Louis vs. Chicago, 8 pm ET
Saturday, August 8
Washington vs. Sky Blue FC, 7 pm ET
Sunday, August 9
Boston vs. Los Angeles, 6 pm ET (FSC)
FC Gold Pride vs. Saint Louis, 8 pm ET
1) Head-to-Head record
2) Head-to-Head goal differential
3) Overall goal differential
4) Overall goals scored
5) Away points
6) Away goal differential
7) Away goals scored
8) Coin flip
Three or more teams tied:
1) Head-to-head. The first level is head-to-head in points-per-game against the other teams. If this results in a tie, then the next level is goal differential in head-to-head competition. If there is an imbalanced head-to-head schedule, then the tiebreaking moves to the second tiebreaker.
2) Overall goal differential
3) Overall goals scored
4) Away points
5) Away goal differential
6) Away goals scored
7) Coin flip