The last time the Breakers won a game, the World Cup hadn't started. Diplomatic relations with Cuba didn't formally exist. Taylor hadn't embarrassed herself over Nicki. In their last six games, the Breakers have gone 0-2-4, picking up two points out of a potential 18. That's 11%. That's a big, fat F.
They haven't been big blowouts. Every loss except the 2-0 loss to WNY Flash has been by one goal. Against the Chicago Red Stars last night, they looked like they might pull out a win, or at the very least preserve a hard-fought tie, only to give up a goal in the 89' from Christen Press.
It's just that the closeness of it all makes it that much more frustrating when the Breakers drop points in entirely winnable games.
The good news first: Alyssa Naeher is still more than worthy of her 2014 Goalkeeper of the Year accolades.
Naeher had seven saves against the Red Stars, several of them big time shot stoppers that showed off her nerves of steel in a one-v-one. She kept the scoreline respectable, which in turn let the attackers focus more on their side of the pitch.
"Obviously having [Alyssa] back in goal, it makes you feel confident and she's so solid there as well," said Kyah Simon after the game. "She saved us numerous amounts of times and definitely kept us in the game. Knowing you've got a keeper like that between the sticks, it's comforting to know that you just have to do your job at the other end of the field."
The team is finding Kyah Simon a little more as well. As she integrates with the team, she has more service and more chances. Simon almost made something out of nothing in the 32', twisting to get her foot on a high ball and volley it into the net.
Chicago goalkeeper Michele Dalton had to leap to make the save. Simon eventually made good in the 69', staying tough to finish off a very nice lofted cross from Stephanie McCaffrey even though she was in deep traffic.
There were plenty of good balls into the box for Boston and some chances that were just off. Kristie Mewis had a humdinger of a free kick in the 85', slamming the ball off the far post, just inches away from bagging the lead. Several balls over the top almost found McCaffrey running on. Almost, not quite, just off. Frustrating.
Or, as coach Tom Durkin put it, "Same wine, different bottle."
"We were kind of catatonic in the first half. There was a lot of ballwatching. A lot of girls got beat over the inside shoulder. [Naeher] came up big more than once. Kept us in a good position to get out of the half at zero-zero," said Durkin.
Of course, they didn't get out of the half zero-zero. Just when it seemed like Boston would finish it out level, Melissa Tancredi killed the mood in the 41', tapping the ball in off an assist by Alyssa Mautz. Then the late goal from Christen Press running into the box to finish off a slightly chaotic ball, snatching back the point the Breakers had fought so hard to get.
"It's tough when it happens so late in the game, the 89th minute. Everyone's kind of leaving it all out there and you've got a lot of people working hard. It's tough to give one up at the very very end like that," said Naeher.
To Boston's credit, even with only three or four minutes left to play, they didn't stop pressing. The seemed to fully believe an equalizer was possible until the dying seconds of the game. It's not necessarily their belief or effort that is the problem here.
Passing in small spaces needs some work; players bust out the quick short- to mid-range passes to move the ball around the field in bursts, but then there are long stretches of turnovers and dead ends. Off-the-ball movement has got to get more fluid, opening up passing lanes and giving attackers some room to maneuver. Mewis had some space against Chicago because Mautz declined several times to close down on her, but other midfields won't be so generous.
To be fair, the game might have swung differently had Lauren Lazo not gone down with a cramp late in the second half. Durkin was forced to drop playmaker Rafinha into the right fullback spot and sub in Morgan Marlborough. Rafinha and Bia several times combined very well on the right flank and Boston had Marlborough, Simon, and McCaffrey in a three-front running at Chicago for a good ten minutes. They created a few dangerous situations, but no finishes.
Durkin also credited Chicago with having a deeper bench, with Boston's lack of options limiting his ability to rotate the squad. "My gut was to rotate now, but the girls said that they felt really well. We had to make a couple early subs, so we're happy to get what we got out of them, because we're also concerned for their well-being for the next match in New Jersey."
The Breakers will face bottom-ranked Sky Blue FC on July 25 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. A loss there would see them sink into last place, but a win might keep them afloat.