Coach Tom Durkin called Boston's 4-1 loss to Portland their "first test of that level."
"The only way I can look it is that was our last preseason match," he said in an interview after practice on Thursday. "It took us while to sort out our marking system. We did come out strong in the second half. We put together a good 30 minutes and then, at the end, it boiled down to some individual errors on both sides of the ball that cost us in front of their goal."
He also noted that such a distant away game was a rough way to start the season. "It's a big ask two years in a row to go 6000 miles to play your opening game against one of the top teams in the league. [The Breakers started 2014 with an away game against Seattle.] It was a little disappointing. I didn't sleep for a few days. I was worried about some of the girls in terms of it being their first outing. Kudos to Portland, they were quite good on the evening."
Durkin remains confident in the team, however, adding "I've seen a big improvement already. I have a lot of belief in them as a group."
On Boston's next game against Houston, Durkin thinks the Dash will pose a challenge, but one the team will be ready to face. "We have two weeks to prepare and we're going to look at Houston as the start of our season. It always takes a game to warm up," he said. "We're thinking about what the right player selection is for our midfield. We know we get Julie [King] back so that's a big plus for us. I think it's going to give some people a little bit more confidence."
"More than anything my takeaway from the Portland game is that we need to do better at holding the ball. I mean, we have good players who can hold the ball and we were sort of caught standing and watching a lot. So we need to do a good job of holding the ball; to keep Houston off the ball."
Striker Steph McCaffrey echoed Durkin in her post-Portland assessment. "It's obviously disappointing but at the same time we did some positives in there," she said. "And Portland's a great team, especially at home. I think Portland at home is one of the hardest games to win in this league. So we're disappointed but we're not going to get down on ourselves. We saw some bright spots and now we want to take that into Houston in our home opener."
Reacting to her first pro goal, McCaffrey said, "It was just good because I think it came at a good time. It was kind of short-lived but it put us back in the game. You always hear two-nothing is the most dangerous goal in soccer so I kind of knew and the team kind of knew it would just take one play to get us back, so that was definitely the best part about it."
Boston's home opener is April 26 against the Houston Dash at Soldiers Field Stadium.