Boston Breakers at Seattle Reign
7/6/14, 7:00 PM
Memorial Stadium, Seattle, WA
On the road and up 3-1, the Breakers appeared destined to steal a midweek victory from host Washington. Instead, they conceded two late goals--and endured a streak of questionable officiating--en route to a 3-3 draw. Along the way, the team showed signs of improvement, though Tom Durkin's club has continually failed to impress for a full 90 minutes. The Breakers' inconsistency leaves them buried at the bottom of the table, having won just once in their previous seven outings.
Last Five: W-L-D-L-D
Wins continue to pour in for the Reign, who stand nine points ahead of second-place FC Kansas City on the NWSL table. A midweek victory over Western New York serves as Seattle's fifth consecutive result, with midfielders Jess Fishlock and Beverly Goebel leading the way offensively. Kim Little, who has contributed 11 goals this season, scored twice for Seattle against Boston on opening day, though she did not factor into the team's win on June 19. Laura Harvey's side will look to build on a memorable 2014 campaign on Sunday, when the league's top club hosts the ninth-ranked Breakers once again.
Last Five: W-W-W-D-W
What to Watch For:
Following their midweek collapse, Breakers General Manager Lee Billiard and Head Coach Tom Durkin publicly shared a series of not-so-positive comments regarding the quality of NWSL officiating--both during the Breakers match with Washington, and throughout the course of the 2014 season. The often-quiet pair made headlines when they received a fine for their protest, though we can only wonder how their comments will impact a downtrodden Breakers side. Durkin professed his faith in his club, and praised his young and veteran players for amassing a 3-1 lead, essentially putting the blame on the official for Wednesday's draw. Will his frustrations help fire up a team that can't seem to catch a break?
On Sunday, look for veterans Heather O'Reilly and Lianne Sanderson to harness the increased attention and use it to motivate their young squad, working to guide the Breakers back to NWSL relevancy.
In Seattle, Laura Harvey will enter Sunday's match with far fewer concerns. Kim Little has asserted herself as one of the league's premier goalscorers, goalkeepers Hope Solo and Haley Kopmeyer have continued to anchor a talented defensive unit, and a back four that includes Lauren Barnes, Stephanie Cox, Kate Deines and Elli Reed ranks among the best in women's soccer. When Little doesn't get involved offensively, midfielders Jess Fishlock and Keelin Winters do; and when Sydney Leroux finds space in the attacking third to run at opposing defenses, the team looks more dangerous than any attack in women's soccer. Only one question remains unanswered: have they peaked at the correct time? The consistency of Harvey's team serves as an instant highlight, though at some point, the club will begin to wear down. If they don't, the rest of the league may be fighting for second place; the Reign have virtually no weaknesses to expose.
In order to claim a result on Sunday, the Breakers will need to buckle down defensively and prepare to counter with Jazmine Reeves down the right flank. If the Breakers can rebound from an emotional loss in Washington, they just may be able to steal a point from Seattle.