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Match preview: Boston Breakers vs Washington Spirit

The turnaround is still around the bend

Perhaps instead of diving directly into this match preview, it would be better to look at this open letter from head coach Matt Beard, which was released by the team a few days ahead of this game.

Obviously, we're frustrated with the results we've had this season. We wish we were in a better position. We thank everyone for their patience and want to reassure that everyone is working as hard as they can both on and off the pitch to change the results and get themselves up the league table. The players had a positive response after a difficult performance against Western New York. We're confident as a group that we can turn the season around and make progress up the standings and make sure we finish as high as we can.

As reassuring as this was meant to sound, at the same time it's kind of a grim reflection of the season so far. Boston is back at the bottom of the table after enjoying less than a week at the lofty heights of being #9. They conceded four goals to the Western New York Flash and now they'll be without key midfielder Kristie Mewis, who is out this weekend with a right ankle sprain.

The good news is that Whitney Engen should be back, and the defense with Engen seems to be pretty well-anchored and not prone to giving up four goals.

There's also Eunice Beckmann, who is still a wild card at this point. True, she'll be playing without Mewis;  it'll be interesting to see how Beard compensates for that wide midfield spot. Perhaps Brittany Ratcliffe will get a start; perhaps he'll push up a player like Brooke Elby. Perhaps he'll accept that his formation will just be narrower against Washington than is ideal - although that would certainly not be optimal with Crystal Dunn operating on the right for Washington. Shoring up Boston's left side in an attempt to stifle Dunn wouldn't be the worst plan B without Kristie Mewis available.

But Beckmann will now get a chance to impact a full 90, assuming she's match fit, and it would be nice to see her linking up with Kyah Simon, who has needed better service in the 18. Simon herself is just returning from international friendlies with Australia, but should be good to go.

As for the Spirit, they're riding high, third in the league, just one point behind the league leaders Chicago. Then again, their last game, they got taken apart 4-1 by the Portland Thorns, so it's not like they can't be broken down. If Angela Salem and McCall Zerboni can shut down Diana Matheson and Joanna Lohman in the midfield, plus the left side sticks close to Dunn, then that'll help immensely, and it just might free up Stephanie McCaffrey on the right to get more looks on goal.

Honestly, coming out of this one with a tie would be progress for Boston. First work on consistently not losing, then we'll talk about winning. Is that a grim thing to say? Sure. But it's no use being sunshine and flowers about the situation. The players know the deal, and they're working their hardest to flip the script. Pretending that there isn't an an enormous mountain in front of them does them no favors at all.

Breakers vs. Spirit kicks off at 7 PM ET at Jordan Field. The game will be livestreamed on NWSL's youtube channel.