T-180 minutes to kickoff: It's safe to say that Jim Gabarra's Washington Freedom will have punched their ticket to the playoffs with a victory this afternoon against Omid Namazi's Chicago Red Stars.
T-170: This is the scenario so far.
FC Gold Pride—Ticket punched, preparing Championship Game for the fans as we speak.
Boston Breakers—Ticket punched, preparing Super Semifinal Game for the fans as we speak.
Philadelphia Independence—Ticket punched, preparing First Round Game for the fans as we speak.
Chicago Red Stars—Eliminated.
That leaves two teams left to sort out. Sky Blue FC's 1-1 draw with FC Gold Pride puts them in a tough spot. Even if they were to win out their remaining matches, the Freedom hold the upper hand. A Washington win, a Sky Blue loss against the Atlanta Beat, and we pretty much have the playoff field set in stone.
T-160: In other action on Wednesday, the Red Stars silenced the Philadelphia Independence 2-0, while the Boston Breakers destroyed the Atlanta Beat 3-1.
T-120: Today's other match is a possible preview of the WPS Championship Game, and the match which should have been televised: the nightcap between FC Gold Pride and the Boston Breakers.
T-60: Here are the lineups.
Manager: Omid Namazi
Colors: Light blue tops with Chicago flag, white shorts, light blue socks
1 Jillian Loyden
2 Marian Dalmy ---- 9 Whitney Engen ---- 15 Kate Markgraf ---- 13 Natalie Spilger
14 Karen Carney (C) ---- 7 Megan Rapinoe
17 Katie Chapman
19 Veronica Boquete ---- 27 Casey Nogueira
31 Allison Whitworth
21 Lydia Vandenbergh
16 Sophie Reiser
Manager: Jim Gabarra
Colors: Red tops, white shorts, red socks
24 Ashlyn Harris
19 Rebecca Moros ---- 17 Nikki Marshall ---- 4 Cat Whitehill (C) ---- 22 Becky Sauerbrunn
15 Anita Asante ---- 10 Homare Sawa
14 Sarah Huffman ---- 9 Allie Long ---- 8 Sonia Bompastor
20 Abby Wambach
13 Christie Welsh
5 Brittany Bock
6 Beverly Goebel
23 Kristi Eveland
0 Meagan McCray
FIRST HALF START: 3:06 P.M. PT
1' - We are underway. Can Veronica Boquete play spoiler in the Red Stars' season finale?
2' - Shot from Abby Wambach parried by Jillian Loyden for a Washington Freedom corner.
3' - That didn't work out too well for Abby. Goal kick, Loyden.
4' - Can't believe this was the same pitch—as Ashlyn Harris boots this one for a goal kick—where Omar Gonzalez nearly became the goat for my LA Galaxy against the Chicago Fire yesterday. It just doesn't have the same atmosphere. Then again, when the Red Stars aren't winning, what do you expect in terms of atmosphere? Funeral, maybe?
5' - Here comes Homare Sawa, Formiga breaking the pass up. Throw-in, Freedom.
6' - Harris will take that to reset the next sequence for Washington. And now it's Natalie Spilger with the touch.
7' - Formiga with the possession. The Red Stars' postseason dreams are done, but they would love to give this group of weary supporters a victory. No one to receive the Wambach delivery, and it's a goal kick.
8' - Freedom are forced to retreat for the counterattack. Here's Sonia Bompastor. Chicago's defense is one of the bright spots this season for the Red Stars, and it's showing early on this match.
9' - As Becky Sauerbrunn throws that, you have to wonder: will the direct football work?
10' - Ashlyn Harris says, "Not so fast, Casey Nogueira." Goal kick.
11' - This is a corner, after Nikki Marshall clears. Too high a shot from Nogueira; goal kick, Harris.
12' - And now it's Anita Asante. Sonia Bompastor tried to find somebody on the right, but too strong.
13' - We are 13 minutes into the match, and as Kate Markgraf clears that for a Washington corner, we would like to let you know that it's still scorless.
14' - Good clean-up from Casey Nogueira. Rebecca Moros with the jersey tug, and Ted Unkel chooses not to call it, to the understandable consternation of the Red Stars faithful.
15' - This is Asante. And now Chicago is on the attack, with Marshall getting knocked on by one Megan Rapinoe.
16' - Almost, Wambach. Almost. Goal kick Loyden.
17' - Formiga's defense is what you would expect. A speculative effort from Veronica Boquete. Goal kick Harris.
18' - Here's Natalie Spilger. Not well held by Katie Chapman, and Harris will take that for a goal kick.
19' - Delivery from Cat Whitehill leaves much to be desired. Goal kick, Loyden.
20' - Twenty minutes into the first half, and it's still scoreless. They'll be trading goal kicks for the time being, both teams are. Looked like a handball right there, but Ted Unkel didn't call it.
21' - Goal kick Harris.
22' - And here comes Chicago. Corner No. 2 for the Red Stars.
23' - Good effort from Casey Nogueira, but Harris snaps that up. Sauerbrunn marks Carney.
24' - Bad header from Katie Chapman, and that's another goal kick.
25' - This is some good action going on. Marian Dalmy with the throw-in.
26' - Too long for Cat Whitehill.
27' - 27 minutes in, and it's still scoreless.
28' - Back come the Red Stars, but the Freedom midfield dispossesses. Are they trying to do the wave down there?
29' - Three words, guys: NOT. ENOUGH. PEOPLE. Moros shields that away for a Harris goal kick.
30' - This will be the final regular season play-by-play in WPS for me. After which, you will get to see some postseason play-by-plays. With customary Other Miscellany.
31' - Free kick for Chicago on the restart but that didn't work out.
32' - This is excellent defensive action on both sides. I'm lovin' it.
33' - Loyden snaps that Whitehill free kick up. This is Nogueira, but Whitehill dispossesses.
34' - Didn't work out. Organs? At a soccer game? That's more fit for a White Sox game!
35' - The Freedom's attack has been stagnant this half. It's still scoreless.
36' - Homare Sawa stops Veronica Boquete there, and it's a corner for Chicago.
37' - Nogueira is testing Harris early and often. Another corner, and that is cleared. Man, Harris is getting some work done. A push over the crossbar for a corner.
38' - Yet another push. Where is the help, Freedom? There's a bailout package: a high shot from Casey Nogueira. Sometimes I don't get the shot selection from this rookie, but I suppose that since this IS her first season, some leeway is in order.
39' - Back come the Red Stars. This is the offensive onslaught we have been accustomed to seeing...without the finish to show for it.
40' - Here's Rapinoe, and Ashlyn Harris makes another save.
41' - Washington has been on the defensive this match. Makes you wonder.
42' - 42 minutes in, and I think this may be a scoreless first half.
43' - Karen Carney is shaken up. Anita Asante is given a warning. Some of the fans are asking for a caution.
44' - Unkel is playing it loose, so Gabarra doesn't need to lose his cool over it. Should be lucky too. Another official would pull out a piece of plastic cheese, or really run a tight ship and send Asante off. No sweat, old man.
45' - All righty then, how many minutes of stoppage time? One, it seems.
45' + 1' - Substitution Chicago Red Stars
IN 11 Cristiane
OUT 14 Karen Carney
Tough break for Chicago's No. 14, as Loyden does a free kick times two. It's halftime.
Chicago Red Stars 0
Washington Freedom 0
Now, am I hearing things, or did Mark Rogandino say that FC Gold Pride are taking on the Philadelphia Union next Saturday? It's the Independence, for crying out loud!
SECOND HALF START: 4:09 P.M. PT
46' - The second half begins. Will we see some better offense?
Substitution Washington Freedom
IN 5 Brittany Bock
OUT 10 Homare Sawa
The Naperville native begins her curtain call here in Bridgeview. Great save from Ashlyn Harris. Boquete nearly made it 1-0 Red Stars.
47' - Corner Chicago. No one in the vicinity. It's a goal kick for Harris.
48' - Here's Sarah Huffman. Should have done better on the delivery. And now it's Cristiane. Anita Asante was traded earlier this season to Washington.
49' - Good pressure on Huffman from the Red Stars' back line. They reset for the next sequence.
50' - Megan Rapinoe is dispossessed, and Abby Wambach is called back for offsides.
GOAL! Chicago Red Stars 27 Casey Nogueira Assist 19 Veronica Boquete
Great touch, great pace, great speed on the breakaway. Cool you like, it's 1-0 Chicago.
51' - Washington will be playing on its heels the rest of this match. You can't give up that much space to Nogueira; she will kill you 10 times out of 10.
52' - Harris with the save on Boquete. The Red Stars are 6-0-0 when scoring first and 0-11-3 when scored upon first.
53' - Natalie Spilger will be feeling that for a while. Nice trademark hairdo. Jenn Hildreth calls that "The Spilger." Appropriate.
54' - Washington is 4-3-3 when they score first and 1-5-0 when scored upon first. Allie Long with a long shot that goes wide.
55' - Here's Whitehill. And now it's Dalmy, to Brittany Bock. Jillian Loyden resets the sequence. Whitney Engen with the touch. Sauerbrunn with the mark on Boquete. Whitehill clears for a throw-in.
56' - Gee, that's a lot of names I called out in that last minute, as Harris gets that goal kick out of the way. So we are 56 minutes into the match, and it's 1-0 Chicago.
57' - Abby Wambach must be wondering, oh no, not the nose again. Loyden will grab that ball for a restart. And here come the Red Stars. Boquete is denied.
58' - Freedom on the counter. And Allie Long is called offsides after the initial delivery by Huffman.
59' - Nikki Marshall marking Boquete. Here's Formiga. And Spilger, flaunting that hairdo. I actually like it. The Spilger do, that is.
60' - An hour into the contest. Chicago opts to slow things down a bit. Here's Becky Sauerbrunn. And here is a corner for Washington.
61' - Played it short, and Whitney Engen puts Abby Wambach on notice. Rebecca Moros with the throw-in.
62' - Now it's Cristiane, and that's one too many touches from the Brazillian. Don't know why she is shining at Santos, but not doing the same down here? Different styles, maybe?
63' - Loyden with the throw-in. And that won't amount to much as the Freedom get it back.
64' - Sky Blue FC must be feeling real good right now as Harris saves. This could go down to the final weekend.
65' - We are 65 minutes in, and it's 1-0 Chicago. A fingertip save from Harris. Nice chaleira from Boquete, though.
66' - Yellow card 14 Sarah Huffman
Dissent won't work on Ted Unkel's watch.
67' - Transition won't work for Washington.
68' - Wide left for Cristiane. Not sure why she chose that angle, but it is what it is.
69' - Formiga and Megan Rapinoe team up on the clearance. Hey, they won't be going to postseason; might as well mix up a little!
70' - Bad shot from Dalmy. Goal kick Harris. It's a bit difficult to get a good footing with the pitch in the condition that is. Allie Long is a little bit shaken up—no, her shoes are untied.
71' - Sauerbrunn with the throw-in, and now it's Harris with the reset. Asante looks to get some help.
72' - Formiga with the challenge on Abby Wambach. Free kick for the Freedom. Wide left for Cat Whitehill.
73' - 73 minutes into the contest, and it's still 1-0 Chicago.
Yellow card 5 Brittany Bock
74' - Here's a Red Stars free kick. Too low for Nogueira. Now it's Whitney Engen.
75' - Here's Sauerbrunn, and Bompastor couldn't find anybody on the pass.
76' - Back come the Red Stars. Offsides, Wambach.
77' - Nogueira tried to find the far corner on that shot, but that didn't work
Washington is 6-2-3 at home and 1-6-4 on the road.
78' - Corner for Washington. Atlanta and Sky Blue FC are both scoreless through 79 minutes.
79' - Kate Markgraf is marked by Nikki Marshall. Allie Long is getting winded after that Formiga challenge.
80' - Free kick deflected, and Anita Asante grabs it. Good counter from Chicago. But Asante will take that away from Boquete.
81' - Timing for this Washington attack has been inconsistent. This direct brand has not been a smash hit tonight.
82' - "Come on you Red Stars!" the fans chant, a desperate attempt for their home team to consolidate.
83' - Too strong a shot from Megan Rapinoe. Goal kick, Ashlyn Harris. Sauerbrunn with the throw-in. Excellent save from Loyden on Abby Wambach.
84' - Now it's Natalie Spilger with the throw-in. A plane leaves O'Hare International Airport. Wonder where that's heading off to.
85' - Sarah Huffman has unimpressed tonight for Washington.
Substitution Washington Freedom
IN 6 Beverly Goebel
OUT 19 Rebecca Moros
86' - Yellow card 8 Formiga
Chicago Red Stars
Dissent. Well, she can't say she didn't this coming. Free kick for Washington. Gracious, that shot from Bompastor was high. The epitome of a terrible night for the Freedom.
87' - There's another rash challenge and Huffman's off!
Red card 14 Sarah Huffman
This has not been Gabarra's night, and all the momentum they were having up to then has been sapped away here at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
88' - Substitution Chicago Red Stars
IN 21 Lydia Vandenburgh
OUT 27 Casey Nogueira
89' - Not a lot of time remaining, and it's still 1-0 Chicago. That should have been 2-0 with the scramble in the box; it's just that the Red Stars didn't finish.
90' - Four minutes of stoppage time are in the books. Throw-in for Washington.
90' + 1' - Loyden with the grab. Just a few more minutes and the fans should leave quite pleased. Whitehill knocks out the shot for Rapinoe. Off on the timing. It will be a corner, and now a throw-in.
90' + 2'- Chicago is looking to consolidate on their lead, to make this a done deal. And they do!
GOAL! Chicago Red Stars 7 Megan Rapinoe
This should be the last goal of the season for Rapinoe and for the Red Stars. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again.
90' + 3' - GOAL! Washington Freedom 6 Beverly Goebel
Goebel opens her scoring account, but there may not be enough time remaining. That was an unacceptable defensive breakdown on the part of Chicago. That's been the story of the year for this side, though.
90' + 4' - That's a wrap!
CHICAGO RED STARS 2
Casey Nogueira 50'
Megan Rapinoe 90' + 2'
WASHINGTON FREEDOM 1
Beverly Goebel 90' + 3'
With the scoreless draw between Atlanta and Sky Blue FC, the race for the final spot will come down to the final weekend. Stay tuned for the WPS Power Rankings on the View from Victoria Street, the WPS Fan Corner and Bleacher Report.