Breakers 0-3 Seattle Reign: Little, Rapinoe, Dominate Breakers in Season-Opening Loss

Reign forward Megan Rapinoe pestered Boston's back line on Sunday. - USA TODAY Sports

Despite a strong performance from goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, the Breakers turned in an uninspiring season-opener, falling 3-0 to host Seattle

From the opening moments of Sunday night's season-opener, Seattle seemed poised to avenge a forgettable 2013 season. The new-look Reign delivered at home, outhustling, outshooting and outplaying a surprisingly inferior Breakers side.

­­­­­In the opening 15 minutes, the Breakers pushed forward with pace, though Seattle responded by placing tremendous pressure on Boston's front line. An assertive start enabled the west-coast squad to dispossess Boston's forwards and counter up field, working to spring striker Sydney Leroux in the attacking third. In the 21st minute, Leroux received a ball over the top, held up inside the box, and attempted to beat Breakers goalkeeper Amanda Naeher with a creative heel-flick. Seattle midfielder Kim Little chased down the ensuing deflection, forcing Naeher into a strong save to her right.

For the remaining 34 minutes, Seattle built out of the back, using the counter attack to continually test Naeher. A 25th minute shot by Seattle forward Megan Rapinoe forced Naeher into a sprawling save to her left. The veteran goalkeeper parried Rapinoe's shot off the far post and into safety.

In the 29th minute, the Breakers developed their strongest opportunity of the match, when midfielder Heather O'Reilly played a bounding ball in front of goal. Joanna Lohman took a first-time shot off the underside of the crossbar. A fortunate Seattle side continued to counter until the end of the first 45, entering the break in a 0-0 deadlock.

In the second frame, Seattle finally broke the draw, using a penalty-kick goal from Kim Little to take a 1-0 lead. The sequence began with quick counter attack, one that ultimately ended on the foot of Rapinoe. The U.S. International played a hard cross into the box that initially struck defender Courtney Jones' foot--and then awkwardly popped onto her hand. Little finished to Naeher's left.

Five minutes later, Seattle claimed a second goal, once again credited to Little. An immediate restarted by Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock resulted in an over-the-top assist to Little, who barely stayed onside and finished underneath a jumping Naeher. Despite Boston's adamant protest for an offside call, the center official upheld the game's second goal.

As the match progressed, Seattle continued to outpossess a frustrated Breakers squad, though Naeher failed to break. In the 77th minute, the Penn State alum denied a diagonal chip from Rapinoe that nearly found the back of the net, silencing the goal-hungry forward.

On her fourth attempt, Rapinoe finally beat Naeher. A soft through ball from Fishlock slowly trickled into the 18, where two Breakers defenders casually converged on the ball. Rapinoe split the pair, poked a shot past a charging Naeher, and capped Seattle's astounding 3-0 victory.

A quiet night from Mollie Pathman and Boston's revamped attack--and a lackluster performance from an unmotivated back line--doomed the Breakers, spoiling Head Coach Tom Durkin's highly-anticipated NWSL debut.

Next Week

The Breakers will return to Boston for their 2014 home opener, host to expansion-side Houston. Match kicks off at 6:30 pm on Sunday, April 20.

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