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Boston goes down early to Orlando for 2-0 loss

Large parts of Boston’s midfield went AWOL during this game, but Abby Smith is a bright spot.

Amy Pearson

Starting XI: Abby Smith, Brooke Elby, Amanda Frisbie, Christen Westphal, Julie King, Tiffany Weimer, Angela Salem, Rose Lavelle, Amanda Da Costa Emilie Haavi, Natsha Dowie

It was another bad start for Boston when they took on the Orlando Pride on a wet Saturday night. They gave up a an early penalty kick in the 8’ when a quick ball through for Marta saw Abby Smith coming quickly off her line. Smith was whistled for a yellow card for going into Marta’s feet as she went for the ball. Marta stepped up to the spot and though Smith guessed the right direction, the ball was too well-placed, making it 1-0 for Orlando.

Orlando picked up their second five minutes later in the 13’. Westphal wasn’t able to stop Camila’s cross and Amanda Frisbie didn’t twig to Jasmyne Spencer lurking in the space behind her. Spencer finished easily right in front of goal to make it 2-0 for Orlando.

Boston managed to dig their way back a little throughout the rest of the second half despite a midfield that faded in and out. Neither Haavi nor Da Costa were particularly present, leaving Salem, Lavelle, and Weimer to carry the load. Much of the attack was Weimer springing Elby or vice-versa along the left side and in fact Elby managed to zip inside in the 18’ and blast a shot just wide of the far post.

But with the rest of the midfield ineffective and Dowie fairly isolated when she wasn’t dropping deeper to help dig the ball out, Boston just wasn’t getting any looks at gall. Orlando outpossessed Boston 63-37 in the first half and the teams went into halftime at 2-0.

Boston took the game to Orlando a little bit more in the second half. What helped were two quick subs in the 53, with Weimer and Da Costa off and Adriana Leon and Rosie White on. Leon slotted into her accustomed right forward spot and White stayed in the midfield with Salem trying to free up more space for Lavelle to operate.

Unfortunately Lavelle didn’t get on the ball that much more in the second half and much of Boston’s increased pressure came through Leon’s hardline attacking into the box. The ball went across the face of goal a few times, but at the same time there was on one there finishing those chances.

Boston’s third sub was in the 63’ with Frisbie off and Morgan Andrews on. Andrews went into the back line next to Westphal, looking to spring the attack with deep balls over the top, but that didn’t quite work out either.

Julie King almost had a turn and shoot in the 70’ as Boston pushed up with numbers yet again, but couldn’t put it on frame. That was a consistent problem among all the players; either players weren’t willing to one time it or shots went over. Boston was outshot 17 to two by Orlando and was saved from going down by three as Abby Smith stood strong in goal until the final whistle. She had an especially crucial save in the 84’ as Marta was on a near-breakaway and bearing down one-on-one, trailing her defender. Smith came off her line quickly, blocking the ball away.

Of note, Morgan Andrews went down in the 86’, requiring the trainers to come on. It’s unknown at this time what her injury was, except that she waved off an inhaler and appeared to be clutching her calf. Andrews limped off and did not return to the game.

This is an almost exact repeat of Boston’s last game against Portland, when they went down early by two, also with one penalty against, and had to spend the rest of the game trying to dig their way out of the hole. Matt Beard will surely be frustrated with the way Rose Lavelle was uninvolved in the game, not to mention Haavi and Da Costa. On the other hand, the team does have a bright spot in Smith and Westphal, who is finally looking like the #3 draft pick she was. Consistent minutes under a coach who understands her has brought out the best in Westphal this season, and it’s a shame that her partnership with Megan Oyster was interrupted by injury this game.

Boston will now take a break along with the rest of NWSL as we enter a FIFA window. The USWNT, CanWNT, Norway WNT, and US U23’s are all in action during the break, pulling away various Breakers for the next couple of weeks. Their next game is June 17 at the North Carolina Courage.