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Match preview: Boston Breakers vs Washington Spirit

Can the Breakers turn frustration into points?

It wasn’t quite a snap to their losing streak, but the Boston Breakers managed to get a point on the road against the Houston Dash in a hard-fought game that saw them rebound from an awful first half. They might have come away with all three points but for a ref call in a supposed handball, but will have to make do with one. But maybe they can also bring home some of that frustration and pick up a home win against the Washington Spirit.

Interestingly, the Breakers just picked up a player the Spirit waived, forward Katie Stengel. Stengel won’t arrive in Boston soon enough to play for Boston against her former team, but her pickup indicates Matt Beard is aware he needs to do something with his offense. The goals have not been there five games in a row, blown ref call notwithstanding, and Boston needs someone who can either help Dowie out or serve as a focal point on her own.

For Washington, Boston will have to use the roster they’ve got, which means fixing the problems that were very evident against the Houston Dash. First and foremost there’s the Purce - Dowie partnership. Midge Purce is fast. Like able to take off like a shot and turn the corner around almost any defender you pick capital-F Fast. But she doesn’t use her speed to the advantage of the whole team; she’s still very much a rookie in knowing when and how to pick out the players who are moving up the field with her. Several times she could have put Dowie into scoring position just by releasing the ball a little sooner, and several times she ran into two or three defenders who promptly sent Boston packing back to their end of the field.

The other big problem was maintaining any kind of possession in the midfield. How many times did Dowie, meant to be the highest forward on the pitch, have to come all the way back into her own half to help dig out the ball? Dowie is the kind of player you just can’t afford to have dropping; kudos to her for being willing to do the hard work on both sides of the ball, but honestly she shouldn’t have to. Everybody has got to sharpen up their passing to avoid the 61-39 possession split they showed against Houston in the first half.

Players to watch out for on the Spirit are Francisca Ordega, who can slip through back lines, and former Breaker Kristie Mewis. Mewis does a lot of playmaking for Washingotn, so cutting her out of the game could help negate the Spirit’s ability to move the ball. They also have top-notch defensive mid Tori Huster, who will surely be keeping a very sharp eye on Dowie. This would be a great time for Adriana Leon to have another worldy of a game, helping to pull the game wide and laterally stretch out the defense to give Dowie and the other attackers some gaps.

Boston really needs these points. They need the confidence that comes with at least being strong at home, if not on the road. They’re at the bottom of the table but three points could see them jump to eighth. A few good results would put them in spitting distance of the top four, solidly mid-table. Wouldn’t that be something.

The Boston Breakers take on the Washington Spirit on Saturday, July 1 at 4 PM ET. The game will stream live on go90.