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Match preview: Boston vs North Carolina

Just hold on, team.

UPDATED with NC Courage injury information.

So. The Boston Breakers are sitting at eighth in the league with a 2-4-2 record. Their last five games are all losses or draws after what seemed like a pretty bright start to the season. They’ve shown that they can score in games; what they need now is to show they can hold on to a lead and not cough up equalizers or winning goals.

Good luck doing that against the North Carolina Courage, currently first in the league with a 6-3-0 record. Of course, the Courage have recently shown some chinks in the armor, losing three of their last five games against Orlando once and Chicago twice.

But let’s consider the things Chicago has that Boston does not at the moment. First of all, Chicago has Christen Press, that lively attacking presence that can drop beneath the forwards and support them while also pulling defenders off of them to help open up gaps in the defense. Boston’s comparable midfield presence, Rose Lavelle, is out for the next four to six weeks with a thigh injury.

Chicago has a much sturdier defense, especially considering Boston’s Allysha Chapman is also out with a hamstring injury she picked up playing for Canada during their two-game series of friendlies against Costa Rica. And Megan Oyster is questionable, still recuperating from a right knee injury she picked up before Boston played Orlando.

What slightly levels the playing field is Lynn Williams is questionable with a right ankle sprain, while Jess McDonald is out with a hamstring strain. Usual starting GK Sabrina D’Angelo is also probably with a ankle sprain from international duty.

That doesn’t mean that NC doesn’t have a bunch of other offensive options, though, and with Boston’s back line basically at half strength, it’ll be up to Christen Westphal and Julie King to really hold it together. Matt Beard will continue testing his bench with his injury management, perhaps asking Morgan Andrews to step up and really create pressure through the middle. Midge Purce may need to step up here as well; she’s been just a few clicks of the dial away from being on the right setting so far, and if she’s in the right form, then she can help alleviate a lot of the midfield’s burdens by being another provider for Natasha Dowie, as well as a point of attack.

At least Emilie Haavi should be back up to general match fitness after recovering from a broken jaw; she saw time for Norway in their recent friendly against the United States and could help the Breakers compensate for the lack of Chapman on the left.

Who knows, perhaps Beard will decide to be bold and just dive in for three points on the road instead of trying to mitigate his injuries and just hold on for a result. You’re eighth in the table and you know you have some scoring threats who just need to get on frame; why not? Or perhaps he’ll stay cautious and hope to get the bulk of his points against NC with a home advantage and Megan Oyster a full week along in her recovery.

Boston vs North Carolina kicks off at 7:30 PM ET and will livestream on go90.