- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

The Washington Freedom reportedly have a team psychologist. Well, they better give that person a call.
Two huge mental mistakes yesterday against the Philadelphia Charge cost the Freedom valuable points in a tight playoff race and forced them to settle for a 1-1 draw instead of a victory.
Freedom star Mia Hamm missed a penalty kick in the 11th minute and rookie Casey Zimny committed a mindless foul in the 84th that led to the equalizer a minute later against the Charge before 5,968 at RFK Stadium.
It was second time this season the Freedom have broken down in the game's final 10 minutes and allowed the Charge (9-1-4) to tie a game that should have been a win for Washington (6-5-4).
Hamm's shocking miss wide left was noteworthy because it was such an unprecedented misfire from the world's top all-time goal scorer.
Zimny's foul on Charge reserve midfielder Liu Ailing, however, was the more glaring error. A ball was played from the Charge's right flank to Ailing, alone at the top of the 18-yard box.
Replays showed Zimny, who entered the game in the 82nd minute for Pu Wei, used both arms to push Ailing down from behind. A minute later Charge midfielder Zhao Lihong scored the equalizer from 22 yards in front of goal when her free kick hit the crossbar and bounced straight down to tie the game in the 85th minute.
Afterward, Zimny denied she fouled Ailing even though replays showed Zimny executed a perfect two-handed shiver in Ailing's back a play that would have made LaVar Arrington smile.
"I don't know what you saw, but I didn't think I put both my hands on her back," Zimny said. "The way I saw it, when the ball came out, I tried to stick my foot in to touch it away, and I didn't think it was a foul because Mia was coming from the other way, so I put my hands up to catch [Ailing], and it was regarded as a foul."
The game appeared to be the Freedom's when rookie forward Abby Wambach scored the first goal in the 75th minute. A ball was played in from the right flank to Freedom midfielder Steffi Jones at the top of the 18-yard box. Jones cranked a left-footed blast that was partially deflected by a Charge defender.
The deflection found Wambach from about eight yards with her back to goal. Wambach spun right and slotted home her team-leading seventh goal of the season.
"There was a scuffle in the middle of the box, and the ball just ended up on my feet and the keeper was out of position a little," Wambach said. "At this point, we're upset that we didn't keep the win at the end. We'll take the tie, take the point and go to next week."
That in itself poses a huge problem for the Freedom. On Sunday, the Freedom play at the San Jose CyberRays without Hamm and Wambach, who have U.S. national team commitments. In a big game with serious playoff implications, the Freedom will be without their top two goal scorers, which is why yesterday's giveaway was so devastating.
Now, the question becomes what effect this tie will have on the Freedom down the stretch with just six games remaining?
"We have to do well the rest of our games, and we have to get points in the remaining six games that we play," said Freedom assistant Dave Vanole, filling in for coach Jim Gabarra, who served a one-game suspension. "Next week is a huge game for us in San Jose, who we are really battling neck-and neck with, and they've got us on goal difference right now. So if we're tied at the end, they'll go."

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