The Boston Breakers open at home this weekend on Sunday, April 24 at Jordan Field. They're already coming off a 1-0 loss to the Washington Spirit from last weekend, but the team is still working on being an actual team after heavy roster turnover in the offseason and a brand new coach.
Meanwhile, the Reign are also coming off a loss, going down 2-1 to Sky Blue FC in something of an upset. Susie Rantz from Sounder at Heart answered three questions about the Reign to help us preview their game against Boston.
The Bent Musket: How do you think the Reign will react to losing their home opener?
Sounder at Heart: I think the home opener was a big wake-up call for the team. After the match, Laura Harvey said that she saw the players make a lot of the same mistakes in the preseason, but they didn't get punished for them at the time. They certainly did last weekend. I'm not sure they'll have it all figured out for this match against Boston, but I suspect they'll come out with a lot more energy and intensity.
TBM: What were some of the problems you saw in the loss to SBFC that you think they'll work to rectify against Boston?
SaH: One of the reasons the Reign dominated the league last season was because of their movement off the ball. They knew teams would swarm Kim Little in the midfield, but when that happened, Little had multiple options due to the team's smart movement. That didn't happen against Sky Blue, and it was incredibly frustrating to watch. I suspect we'll see the Reign making adjustments in their runs to get themselves in more dangerous situations. Hopefully, that means unlocking the speedy Manon Melis, who had one or two good chances last weekend but was otherwise pretty quiet.
As for the backline, which struggled mightily to contain the speed of Kelley O'Hara, we might see a new lineup this weekend, although it's hard to know after just one match. I think they'll be more focused on how they move as a unit to give each other cover, but I also don't think they'll be threatened in the same way.
TBM: Seattle probably has some of the best roster continuity in the league right now. How much do you expect that to factor into their season? Do you think this is another year they should expect themselves to be in the playoffs - and perhaps the final?
SaH: Laura Harvey worked hard to ensure she not only had a similar roster to last year, but that the team would be minimally affected by the Olympics. In another year where teams are going to lose a lot of key players for a good chunk of the year, the Reign are going to benefit from a lot of continuity. I always hate to make predictions, but I do suspect this will be another year of success for Seattle. Having a player like Manon Melis brings them something they haven't had before â speed on the flanks and a directness toward goal. If they can figure out how to exploit that, it's going to be scary.
You can see our answers about the Breakers over at Sounder at Heart.
Breakers vs. Reign kicks off at 6:30 PM ET at Jordan Field on April 24 and will stream live on NWSL's youtube channel.