Now 16 matches into the 2014 season, the Breakers have struggled to develop defensive consistency, already surrendering more goals (35) than they did in 2013 (34). On Friday, General Manager Lee Billiard added a small-but-hopeful piece to the back line, signing defender Rachel Wood from the team's reserve program.
In 2014, Wood played nine matches and registered one goal and three assists, impressing senior squad coach Tom Durkin late into the season. Before joining the Breakers, Wood benefited from experience with HK/Vikinger in Iceland; the Laguna Niguel, Calif. native attended both North Carolina and UC Irvine, earning starts at the center back position.
"Rachel is a player who was close to earning a pro contract out of preseason camp," Billiard said. "She made the decision to stay, train and play in our reserve team program where we have been able to see her develop under our philosophy. Nobody is more excited to see a reserve team player break through and be offered a pro team contract than myself."
To make room for Wood, Billiard released midfielder Ashley Grove. The discovery player started seven matches in 2014, splitting time between her natural midfield position and Durkin's revolving back line. The move will add a touch of stability behind defenders Bianca Sierra and Cat Whitehill, as Wood serves as a natural center back with the ability to distribute out of the defensive third.
In pre-season camp, Durkin praised Wood, who earned regular minutes for Boston's reserve team. Now, he will have the opportunity to develop Wood into an NWSL contributor, adding depth to the Breaker's weakest position.