Breakers 1-4 Chicago Red Stars: Boston Baffled Again in Third Consecutive Loss

Chicago forward Lori Chalupny scored her second goal in as many matches on Sunday - USA TODAY Sports

Through the first 45 minutes of play, the Breakers fought their way into a 1-1 deadlock. The floodgates opened in the second half, however, as the home side surrendered three goals en route to a 4-1 defeat.

For the second consecutive match, the Breakers turned in 45 minutes of quality play on both sides of the ball. And, for the second consecutive match, the team fumbled through the second frame, conceding a flurry of goals in front of a hopeful home crowd, losing 4-1 to the surging Chicago Red Stars.

In the opening moments of Sunday's rematch, the Breakers traded attacking opportunities with Chicago. A series of half-chances went begging for the home side, however, leaving the door open for the Red Stars to claim an early advantage.

In the 23rd minute, a dangerous Chicago corner floated onto the far post, striking a number of heads inside the six-yard box. Red Stars forward Hayley Brock attempted to finish the loose ball, but her shot eventually fell to defender Michelle Wenino, who placed a close-range strike into the far post. Even with several opportunities to steer the ball out of danger, the Breakers failed to stand strong in front of goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, surrendering yet another early tally.

In the moments that followed, though, the Breakers failed to let Chicago steal the momentum. Skillful play by newly-acquired midfielder Nikki Washington, one of five midfielders in Tom Durkin's unconventional 3-5-2 formation, nearly enabled the Breakers to equalize, though the score remained stagnant until the 35th minute. After receiving a ball deep onto the right side, Lianne Sanderson struck a hard cross into the box that immediately connected with the outstretched arm of defender Samantha Johnson. Heather O'Reilly stepped up to the spot and tucked her penalty into the right side of the net, providing her team with new life late in the second half.

O'Reilly's penalty enabled the Breakers to enter the break even and, with more to prove, room to take a late lead.

In the early stages of the second frame, however, the Red Stars asserted themselves as the more potent squad. In the 50th minute, former Breaker Adriana Leon played a flawless ball over the top to forward Jen Hoy. With space, Hoy took a touch into the box and caught Naeher in an awkward position. Stuck between cutting down the angle and staying home, Naeher attempted to "get big" and force Hoy into an inadvertent finish, though the forward calmly slid a shot past Boston's 'keeper.

Seven minutes later, Chicago added a third goal, a heartbreaking finish that put away the home side. Midfielder Lori Chalupny, who scored her first goal in Thursday's match, received a well-weighted ball against the grain and into the box. This time, Naeher left her line with pace, though Chalupny patiently beat the 'keeper for the 3-1 advantage.

For the ensuing 25 minutes of play, the Breakers struggled to find an offensive rhythm. Deep balls across the field and other the top led to sloppy turnovers, enabling Chicago to control the pace of the match. In the 85th minute, in desperate need of a goal, the Breakers sent everybody forward for a late corner. Chicago quickly collected the loose cross and countered. Substitute midfielder Zakiya Bywaters received a patient pass in her defending third, turned on Breakers defender Bianca D'Agostino, and found herself free with roughly two-thirds of the field in the front of her. Bywaters raced toward goal, beat Naeher one-on-one, and completed the 4-1 rout.

In the end, the Breakers developed a handful of promising opportunities, though the damage had been done. Now 1-5-0 and sitting at the bottom of the table, Boston will need to find an answer on the defensive side of the ball. An abhorrent 16 goals conceded in six matches has doomed the team week in and week out, though Durkin has yet to find a solution. Next week, when the team faces goal-happy F.C. Kansas City, the Breakers will need to tighten up and begin executing--or they will fall into a 1-6-0 hole with little room for recovery.

Next Week

The Breakers will welcome F.C. Kansas City for the third match in Boston's five-game homestand. Match kicks off on Sunday, May 25, at 7:00 PM. To purchase tickets, visit BreakersTickets.com

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