The Boston Breakers finally return home after a long stretch of four away games in a row - four away games they lost one after the other in varying fashion.
After watching the Breakers go from getting blown out by the Flash, struggling back against Seattle, and getting cruelly robbed against Orlando, emotional stakes should be a bit higher than usual when they return to Jordan Field.
Boston probably senses they could have had points in Orlando, giving them an extra kick of energy as they return to their home field after a month away.
It’ll be interesting to see if Beard continues to use his four back of Brooke Elby, Kassey Kallman, Julie King, and Christen Westphal, while pushing Pathman up into the midfield. Westphal didn’t last through the experiment only because she had to come off due to injury against Orlando, and considering the formation seemed to be getting a few more players forward than usual, might be worth trying to repeat in its entirety.
That would put Angela Salem and Katie Schoepfer back in the center, but it might be a better idea to just let Rachel Wood start in place of Schoepfer; Wood had a solid night in the position against Seattle and Schoepfer wasn’t all that effective during her try against Orlando, with Wood subbing in for her anyway.
Louise Schillgard could also prove to be a difference maker if she’s still on form from last weekend. Schillgard was everywhere and between her and Stephanie McCaffrey, Boston had some of the best chances it’s had all season, although unfortunately no one was there to pounce on several balls rolling in front of the opposition’s net.
As for Sky Blue, they’re coming off a mixed recent record, 2-2-1 in their last five games. The last time they played Boston, it was a 1-0 defeat in May, and since then they’ve managed to tie some struggling teams like Kansas City and the Reign while outright beating the pretty good Washington Spirit.
Sky Blue’s Leah Galton has proved to be quite a difference-maker for them, and should she play tomorrow, it’ll be rookie against rookie as Westphal will probably be the one tasked to defend her. Galton and fellow forward Maya Hayes are both on Sky Blue’s injury list, listed as probable with a hip strain and MCL sprain respectively, which could limit their playing time. Sky Blue also won’t have Sam Kerr in the middle, since Kerr is away with the Australian national team on Olympic duty.
All this leaves Sky Blue possibly a bit thin in the attack, which could shift more pressure back onto midfielder Raquel Rodriguez. That’ll be where Schoepfer or Wood steps in to control that space in front of the back line.
This will also be longtime defender Mollie Pathman’s last game before she retires to pursue a physical therapy degree.
Boston Breakers vs Sky Blue FC kicks off at 5 PM ET on Sunday, July 17 at Jordan Field. The game will be livestreamed on NWSL’s youtube channel.