Team History: The Freedom were founded in 2001 as one of the original members of the WUSA. After that league folded, they played in W-League in 2007 and 2008 and did quite well, and now they are back in the big show. The team is owned and operated by the Hendricks, John and Maureen, and is looking to start WPS with a strong season.
The Coach: Jim Gabarra is the Freedom’s coach, and he has been the only coach in the squad’s history. He is also a former US MNT team player, earning 14 caps between 1986 and 1989. His wife, Carin, was a fantastic player for the US WNT during the 1990s and won a gold medal with that team in 1996. He’s the “Dean” of WPS coaches, and a good one.
The Players: Abby Wambach will be the straw that will stir the drink in D.C. She is the US WNT most prolific scorer and she should dominate her WPS competition. The Freedom also feature US stars Cat Whitehill and Ali Krieger, as well as Canadian WNT goalkeeper, Erin McLeod, who will likely battle old US WNT keeper Brianna Scurry for the starting spot.
The Venue: The Freedom will play their home games at the Maryland SoccerPlex, which has a capacity of 3,500. It’s the same stadium DC United uses for US Open Cup and CONCACAF games when RFK is already occupied. It’s a pretty “no frills” venue, but there is talk of doubling it in size, which would allow more people to watch WPS games.
The Prediction: I don’t know why, but I don’t love this team. While Wambach is simply nasty on offense and either McLeod or Scurry is a good option in goal, I just don’t think Washington has the defense (other than Whitehill) to make a run for the WPS inaugural title. So, I bet they miss the playoffs this year, but Gabarra helps them stay toward the middle of the table.