Boston Breakers at Western New York Flash
7/25/14, 7:30 PM
Sahlen's Stadium, Rochester, NY
During their National TV debut, the Breakers turned in a complete dud; the team conceded a season-high six goals en route to a 6-3 defeat. The match offered plenty of entertainment, though it did little to instill confidence along the league's worst back line. The rest of the way, Tom Durkin's club will fight an uphill battle.
Last Five: L-D-L-L-L
Fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot, the Flash have endured an up-an-down July. After narrowly losing to top-ranked Seattle, the Flash hammered Houston, only to turn around and leave five points on the table at home (loss to Washington, draw vs. FC Kansas City). The Flash benefit from one of the strongest defensive units in women's soccer; now, they need to earn results when they matter most.
Last Five: W-L-W-L-D
What to Watch For:
In the midst of all the chaos, the Breakers have turned in a middle-of-the-road attacking season, ranking sixth on the NWSL table with 26 goals scored. Katie Schoepfer has shined thus far, helping her club stay competitive in several late-summer matches. Unfortunately, the back line has done little to defend the attack's productivity, conceding a league-worst 43 goals in 18 matches (for those counting, that's nearly 2.5 goals per match).
On Friday, look for Tom Durkin to continue working with youngster Rachel Wood, who represented the lone bright spot during a miserable defensive performance last weekend. Wood will likely pair with a fresh group of faces; last weekend's defensive unit (minus Alyssa Naeher) deserves nothing more than a weekend on the sideline.
In New York, a win will serve as a top priority for Pedro Losa's club, who find themselves four points out of playoff contention. All of their final five matches will feature a club not currently in playoff contention; four of those matches will feature the three-win Breakers and four-win Sky Blue F.C. If the Flash plan to make a playoff run, they will need to take care of business against the league's bottom feeders.
Expect Losa to run with an attack-heavy formation on Friday, with Carli Lloyd, Samantha Kerr and Vicky Losada all pushing forward, looking to expose the Breakers porous back four. Unless Durkin's crew finds a fresh cast of defenders before Friday's match, the Flash will score goals.
The Breakers simply need to score more.