Player: Alyssa Naeher
Stat Line: 6 starts (540 minutes), 22 saves, 10 goals allowed
At first glance, Naeher's stat line--10 goals allowed in six starts--speaks to a mediocre month, though Boston's keeper has quickly developed into one of the league's premier shotstoppers. She exited June with 59 saves, more than any other NWSL goalkeeper, and 1290 minutes played, serving as one of only two Breakers to have played every minute of every match. The other, not surprisingly, was Cat Whitehill.
On June 23, Naeher almost single-handedly guided her club to a 1-1 draw, collecting 8 saves while stunning U.S. International Kelly O'Hara from the spot in the 86th minute. Yet through it all, Naeher has earned only minor attention, conceding the praise to Tom Durkin's attacking youngsters.
After a memorable month, Naeher deserves recognition: she exhibited much-needed leadership, came off her line with pace, made several key saves and, most importantly, achieved full health. Despite the inconsistencies of her back line, Naeher has continually stood tall, keeping her side in virtually every June match. Forget Naeher's stat line, aside from her 22 saves--she just may represent the most valuable player in Tom Durkin's starting XI.
Now beyond the half way mark of a disappointing 2014 campaign, the Breakers have struggled to achieve any semblance of consistency; from week to week, we just don't know what Boston's back line will give us. So, what does this mean for Durkin's everyday hero?
For starters, it means the pressure will likely stick around for the entirety of the 2014 season. This requires Naeher to stay healthy, stay on the field and always serve as a difference-maker waiting in the wings. It's a tall task, though Naeher has proven ready and willing thus far. If she can continue to keep her club in lopsided matches, U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach Jill Ellis will have to start paying careful attention; with just a handful of caps to her name, Naeher appears ready to break onto the international scene.
What about you? Agree with our analysis? Think we overlooked a June star? It's your turn: vote below!