- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 11, 2002

The Washington Freedom's Anne Makinen has lost her starting midfield position to Monica Gerardo.
Coming off the Freedom's best performance in the club's brief existence, coach Jim Gabarra isn't going to make any lineup changes today in the wake of last Sunday's impressive 3-0 victory at the San Diego Spirit.
Gerardo stepped in for Makinen, who was away with Finland's national team, and performed admirably. Gerardo constantly switched the Freedom's point of attack playing balls from side to side and it showed in the final score. The Freedom's three goals were the most the club has ever scored in a game.
"It's an unfortunate part of the business that Anne loses a starting spot because she goes and plays for her national team. We've got to look ahead as well. She'll be gone the following week, so she's in reserve status right now," Gabarra said.
Gerardo, who sat out two weeks ago against the Atlanta Beat because of injury, is tied for the team lead in goals (two) with forward Jacqui Little and points (five) with rookie forward Abby Wambach.
The Freedom's (2-2) start has Gerardo cautious. Sunday's game was the first match that Gerardo, Chinese midfielder Pu Wei, and holding midfielder Lindsay Stoecker worked together as a unit. Gerardo and Pu are attacking midfielders while Stoecker's job is to control the ball and disrupt the opponent's attack.
"I'm still trying to work out some kinks in the midfield, but last weekend we seemed to work pretty cohesively together," Gerardo said. "Myself and Pu Wei are both offensive midfielders. Our basic job is to role play and make plays happen, send balls through, switch the play, and keep things under control."
Today, the Freedom's new-look midfield takes on the first-place and undefeated Philadelphia Charge (3-0) at Villanova Stadium.
Last season, Gerardo began the year as a reserve midfielder coming off Freedom's bench, then was elevated to starting forward when it became clear that Brazilians Pretinha and Roseli were not the answers at striker.
After four games, Gerardo has equaled her goal total and has surpassed her points total from last season. The 25-year-old Gerardo is a highly-decorated member of the Mexican national team earning 26 caps and tallying 10 goals since 1998.
During the offseason, the 5-foot-7 Gerardo spent two months training with the Mexican national team. Such commitment has Gerardo regarded as one of the Freedom's fittest players. Given a little space, Gerardo shows excellent ball skills, despite having a reputation as a dangerous goal scorer that she earned at Notre Dame.
"Monica really has a good presence checking to the ball and then playing off the ball," Stoecker said. "She also is real good at changing the point of attack, switching the field. It's something that our team really needs, which is getting our outside defenders involved and she's good at finding them in space."
Stoecker said Gerardo, a Corona, Calif., native, is a calming force in the Freedom's midfield. With stars Mia Hamm and goalkeeper Siri Mullinix sidelined with injuries, continued solid play from unsung players like Gerardo will prove the Freedom are more than a couple of big names.
"We don't necessarily have the big names we have Mia and Siri and that is the extent of our [U.S.] national team players and who both aren't playing right now and if you look at what's left on paper, outsiders will say, 'What do they have?'" Freedom captain Jen Grubb said.


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