Portland Thorns at Boston Breakers
Harvard Stadium, Allston, MA
At this point, Breakers fans have begun to fear the worst, with a last-placed finish looming. A rain-shortened loss to FC Kansas City maintained the four-point margin between the Breakers and Dash, and highlighted the team's greatest weakness: defensive positioning and one-v-one defending. With just three matches left, they have nothing more than pride on the line.
Last Five: L-L-W-L-L
Although the fourth and final playoff spot looks wide open, the Thorns can simplify the picture, thanks to a 1-0 victory over the Dash last Sunday. A win over the struggling Breakers would clinch a playoff berth for the defending champs, helping to end an inconsistent season with a playoff run. To do so, they will look to replicate a 6-3 win over the Breakers on July 20--and not a 4-1 romping at home.
Last Five: D-W-D-L-W
What to Watch For:
With just four wins in 21 matches, the Breakers have virtually nothing to lose. As a result, look for Durkin to gamble with his roster and his gameplan, looking to find a win at any cost. How will Durkin's freshman season come to a close?
In all likelihood, Breakers supporters will remember 2014 as a large step backward, an unexpected turn following a controversial Lisa Cole campaign. One player who can control her own fate, however, is Kristie Mewis. The U.S. International has rewritten her Breakers story as of late, bagging two goals in the team's previous two matches while turning in a pair of positive performances. The rest of her season has left much to be desired; will Durkin's attack-heavy system continue to play into her strengths? If the Breakers want to salvage their season, Mewis must continue to create behind Jazmine Reeves and Lianne Sanderson, and must continue to take chances in front of goal.
Portland head coach Paul Riley will likely enter Sunday's match with a much different philosophy. With a tendency to implode defensively, and fall out of matches early, the Thorns will implement a more conservative approach. If Christine Sinclair or Jess McDonald find an early goal, as they often do, Portland will likely sit back on the Breakers, looking to defend Jazmine Reeves and her potent attack. The Thorns have no reason to gamble--they simple need a result.
To buy tickets to Sunday's match at Harvard Stadium, visit BreakersTickets.com.