The Boston Breakers are looking for their first away points of the season as they face the Chicago Red Stars away at Toyota Park. The Breakers are coming off two wins and one loss at home, while Chicago also has a mixed bag of results, beating FC Kansas City and the Houston Dash at home, but losing to Houston away, as well as losing to Portland away.
For all that, Chicago has looked strong in the attack, able to bombard back lines with Julie Ertz as they move her out of the back line, as well as circulating Christen Press underneath their highest forwards, or allowing her to move up top herself. If Boston can really shut down Press in the midfield, they’ll limit a lot of Chicago’s opportunities in the attacking third. Megan Oyster and Christen Westphal will also have to make sure they don’t get split or otherwise surprised by Ertz if Chicago decides to have her push higher.
But it’s a good bet that Oyster and Westphal will hold, based on their last couple of performances together. If the fullbacks - probably Julie King and Allysha Chapman on the day - can deny Chicago space, then they can focus on controlling the midfield. King will have to be sharp in dealing with Chicago’s Casey Short, who can range quite high for the Red Stars to the point of basically being another midfielder. It might behoove Boston to turn the tables and get in behind on that left side. If Adriana Leon can exploit the space and stay sharp, then she Natasha Dowie could provide a lot of trouble for Chicago to handle.
In the midfield, Vanessa DiBernardo is listed as probable for Chicago with a right quad strain. She’ll need to be managed wherever she is; her presence can allow Chicago to push Christen Press higher, which gives them a threatening finisher in the box. Essentially, it’s key to deny Press the ball wherever she is, whether that’s by disrupting the service to or from her, while also keeping an eye on Sofia Huerta.
The other big midfield threat for Chicago is Danielle Colaprico. Besides her obvious presence helping to link defense and offense, she’s also a set-piece taker. Boston’s one goal conceded to North Carolina was a set piece, albeit a chaotic one, and with Ertz as a target for free kicks and corners, they really need to stay smart in the box.
Chicago has a lot of quality all over the field, including a face familiar to Boston fans in goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, and Boston has traditionally not done well on the road. That makes this trip to Chicago the next step in the testing of the new-look 2017 Breakers. They managed to get points at home and look pretty good doing it; can they also hold up on the road? We’ll see.
Chicago Red Stars vs Boston Breakers kicks off at 6:00 PM ET on Sunday, May 14. It will stream live on go90, available on mobile and desktop.