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Boston Breakers year in review

In a word: rough.

Stephanie Yang

I asked my very patient editor if I could just leave "It sucked" as the year-end review, but apparently that's not conducive to discussion or something, so here's what 2015 was like for the Boston Breakers: It really sucked.

After the rough year that was 2014, a lot of Breakers fans thought, How could 2015 get any worse? Then 2015 answered, and in spades.

After all, Boston wasn't even in last in 2014. They could thank the Houston Dash for that, even if Boston did have the most goals against in the league by a fair margin. (Hi Houston. Yes, we see you finished fifth in the league this season, a notable improvement. Congratulations on Carli Lloyd.)

2015 started with cautious hopes that perhaps head coach Tom Durkin had just needed a season to adjust to the team, and that this would be at least a mid-table team. Sure, the college draft turned out to be a slight bust, with five picks fighting over essentially one roster spot (that eventually went to Stephanie Verdoia, who didn't really get enough minutes this season to say whether she panned out or not) and the team's Brazilian internationals got all shuffled around and then eventually either cut or dragged off to the World Cup despite said shuffling occurring specifically so the team would avoid losing them for part of the season.

But for all that the early season seemed to be on a mostly even keel, especially with the addition of Kassey Kallman to the back line and a pair of home wins against the Portland Thorns and FC Kansas City. Boston got tossed around on the road, but fans figured they could at least stay strong at home.

Oh how the turn tables.

Losses at home to the Seattle Reign, the WNY Flash, FCKC, the Chicago Red Stars, the Reign again - €”it got dire for a while. The road was no better. There may have been some emotional meltdowns.

Boston finally managed a home win against the Washington Spirit in their last home game of the season. They finished the season 4-13-3 with, once again, the highest goals against in the league and a -21 goal differential.

If, as then-coach Tom Durkin had alluded to at the beginning of the season, this was only year two of a three-year rebuilding plan, things seemed bleak. But then Durkin "stepped down" from the head coach position and Liverpool manager Matt Beard was hired away from the FAWSL.

Beard has already made some hard roster changes, shoring up the midfield and trading away beloved goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to Chicago in order to toughen up the defense. Who knows if it will actually work - but already the team feels different compared to the relative lack of change between 2014 and 2015.

Boston has also given up an international spot and some trade picks for 2016, with GM Lee Billiard confirming that this is all part of their roster rebuild.

So it looks like Coach Beard wants to give the team a steadier season, with less hoping for some good draft picks and an international star or two to pan out and more strengthening the team with known quantities who can perform reliably over multiple games, even with the Olympics interrupting the schedule. A tougher defense, Kyah Simon currently set to rejoin Kristie Mewis and Stephanie McCaffrey in the attack, and more midfield support for them going forward; this could all add up to a very different 2016.

That's very good news for Breakers, who have endured two years of rollercoaster emotions. Or, more likely, one year of rollercoaster emotions followed by one year of dull pangs of hope smothered by long stretches of ennui bordering on despair.

I might be projecting a little.

Here's to 2016 and a new hope that the team will awaken for a return to form and a strike back at all the doubters.