Breakers vs. Chicago Red Stars 2014: NWSL Match Preview

After a disappointing debut, Breakers defensive anchor Cat Whitehill will need to rally her troops on Sunday - Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

After a first-half equalizer--and a pair of second half goals--doomed the Breakers on Thursday, the team will look to tighten up its back line during Sunday's rematch at Harvard Stadium.

Chicago Red Stars at Boston Breakers

5/18/2014, 6:30 PM

Harvard Stadium, Allston, MA

Current Form:

A standout performance on April 27, highlighted by two goals and an assist from midfielder Lianne Sanderson, serves as the only bright spot for the Breakers, who have turned in a disappointing 2014 debut. Tom Durkin's side has earned just one result in five matches (1-4-0), good enough for last on the table. On Thursday, following a week of rest, the Breakers had the opportunity to right the ship at home, though a porous defensive outing allowed the Red Stars to collect three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 defeat. The Breakers will need to stand tall in front of goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to turn their 2014 season around.

Last Five: L-L-W-L-L

For the Red Stars, a middle-of-the-pack start reached its peak on Thursday, when the team scored a season-high three goals in a victory over the Breakers. Midfielder Lori Chalupny and forward Jen Hoy proved their worth in the win, as the pair combined for a pair of goals, breaking free from a quite attacking debut. On Sunday, the Red Stars will look for an identical showing: strong goalkeeping, tall defending, creative attacking play and, most importantly, a flurry of second-half goals.

Last Five: L-L-D-W-W

What to Watch For:

The Breakers will undoubtedly enter Sunday's matchup with a singular goal in mind: back up the strong play of goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The U.S. International offers elite talent, though her club has conceded 12 goals in five matches, a total only exceeded by FC Kansas City (13). Naeher has turned in several outstanding performances, though she has nothing to show for her strong-willed play. With little depth behind Ashley Grove and her defensive teammates, Naeher will likely play behind a familiar back line. It seems nonsensical to replicate the same approach and expect different results, though Durkin has few alternatives. The pressure, then, falls on Lianne Sanderson and her four-woman midfield. Can they score multiple goals, and dominate possession, on Sunday? A win may depend on such a feat.

The Red Stars, on the other hand, appear to have peaked at the right moment. Back-to-back wins have pushed the Chicago-based side into the 4th playoff spot, just ahead of FC Kansas City. Improved attacking play has yielded four goals in their previous two matches; in their preceding four games, the Red Stars scored just two. Look for Lori Chalupny and Jen Hoy to combine once again, pushing hard against Boston's weak back line. Midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo has also looked potent creating behind Hoy and forward Brock Hayley, rounding out a suddenly-strong attack. Chicago's back line will almost certainly stand strong; will the team's build-up play threaten Grove and co.? If they do, the Red Stars should have no problem collecting a third consecutive result.

To buy tickets to Sunday's rematch, visit BreakersTickets.com

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