The Boston Breakers will meet Orlando for the first time, playing them away on Sunday, July 10.
It’s been a hard time on the road for Boston, with this being their fourth straight away game. They’ve already lost the three away games before this one, one of them in an awful 7-1 loss to WNY, and their most recent one a 2-0 loss to Seattle despite tightening up all over the field.
That is the problem, though. Boston can improve greatly from one game to the next and actually play pretty well, but still lose. The team lacks the kind of sharpness in attack that would let them start putting balls in the back of the net. Eunice Beckmann is still coming up to speed and Louise Schillgard can’t do it all on her own and now Kyah Simon is gone for the Olympics with Australia.
A bright spot before this Orlando game: Kristie Mewis has been moved back up to probable on the injury list, still nursing a right ankle sprain but likely to finally see some time on the pitch.
New French signing Ghoutia Karchouni isn’t with the team yet, so the offense will probably once again look to Schillgard and Beckmann to help keep the ball moving through central mid, and perhaps Elise Krieghoff will get moved into a sole striker position.
As for Orlando, they haven’t been doing too hot recently, with only one win in the last five games, and they’ll be looking to pick up some points and try to move higher into mid-table.
Orlando will be without Laura Alleway and Steph Catley, who are with Kyah Simon in Matildas camp; they also won’t have forward Josee Belanger. They might have usual starting goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (and possibly Alex Morgan, if this is an indicator the WNT players are all flying out back to their teams for a little while after yesterday’s game against South Africa - which means the Breakers would get Whitney Engen back as well).
But even if the USWNT allocated players aren’t available for selection, Orlando does have solid midfielders with Becky Edwards and former Breaker Maddy Evans, who can both help control the center and manage the tempo of the game while sending longer balls for players like Jamia Fields (another former Breaker, drafted but never capped) and Jasmyne Spencer, who has proved to be troublesome all season long.
If Boston can control Spencer along the flank and avoid getting collared in the middle of the field, then perhaps Mewis will be able to work on the left to provide for the forwards. Rachel Wood will presumably be reprising her role as a defensive mid after she put in a good shift against Seattle; controlling Kim Little has got to be the ultimate test for any DM in the league.
If the team can manage to get another goal from open play while also limiting Orlando, even if they lose, that’s clear progress, especially after the collapse against WNY. Perhaps that’s damning the team with faint praise, but this team has been clawing its way towards some kind of result all season long and when you’re dragging yourself through the mud, any bit of dry land is a relief.
Boston Breakers vs Orlando Pride kicks off at 5 PM ET on Sunday, July 10. It will stream live on NWSL’s youtube channel.