Independence advances to WPS championship
Tasha Kai and Amy Rodriguez scored for the Philadelphia Independence, who advanced to the Women's Professional Soccer championship game with a 2-0 victory over magicJack on Saturday.
Philadelphia (12-4-3) will face Western New York next Saturday in Rochester, N.Y., for the league title. The Independence were beaten in last year's championship game by FC Gold Pride.
''I'm not satisfied with this game and I don't think any of my players are,'' Independence coach Paul Riley said. ''It's almost a muted celebration.''
This semifinal matchup featured nine members of the U.S. team that was defeated by Japan in the final game of the Women's World Cup last month, including magicJack starters Shannon Boxx, Jill Loyden, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Christie Rampone and player-coach Abby Wambach.
The Independence started Nicole Barnhart and Rodriguez, and had Lori Lindsey available as a substitute.
Kai gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead in the opening minute of the second half when she curved in a left-footed shot from 12 yards out.
''I bent it like Tasha,'' she joked. ''Our whole team put an effort in. It's very, very sweet.''
Rodriguez provided insurance in the 82nd minute when she took a through pass from Danesha Adams, got past the magicJack defense and lofted a shot from 19 yards out over Loyden, magicJack's goalie.
''They score in the first minute of the second half and that's just a backbreaker, emotionally and mentally,'' Wambach said. ''It's tough to come back when they score so early in the second half.''
Wambach had two excellent chances in the second half, nearly tying the game two minutes after Kai's tally but she was stopped from point-blank range by Barnhart, Philadelphia's goalie. Her header from 6 yards out in the 65th minute off a cross from Rapinoe went off the crossbar.
''That's kind of how the whole day was for our team,'' Wambach said. ''Soccer is a game of who finishes their chances the most, and we didn't.''
Those were the only chances after halftime for magicJack (10-8-2), based in Boca Raton, Fla., against a stingy Philadelphia defense that tied for tops in the league by allowing just one goal per game this season.