The rain stopped in time for kickoff, but Jordan Field was still unseasonably cold and wet as the Boston Breakers took on the Chicago Red Stars. But Boston didn’t take too long to find an attacking rhythm, doing their best to switch the point of attack through balls out of the back. Team captain Julie King stepped up several times in the first 10 minutes, cutting out Chicago balls forward, looking for the runner into the box.
Angela Salem also cut out Chicago passes, setting up a nice Boston push in the 17’ that saw Allysha Chapman chesting down a ball at the top of the 18 and nearly dinking the ball over Alyssa Naeher.
Chicago tried to push back and eventually earned a free kick on the edge of the 18 in the 27’, but Christen Press’ free kick sailed into the waiting mitts of Sammy Jo Prudhomme.
The team continued pushing up, but couldn’t find a definitive ball into the box despite crosses in from both Allysha Chapman and Christen Westphal, who were both sweeping high to try and pick out a forward. Chapman and Adriana Leon in particular did a good job of overlapping each other, trying to release one of them to get in deep and hit a cross. But Chicago created plenty of pressure too, often through Christen Press, who sat deeper behind the forwards and often took over the midfield unless smothered by at least two, if not three Breakers at a time. Chicago was surely missing Danielle Colaprico in that part of the field, but just as well for Boston that it gave Angela Salem and Morgan Andrews a little less work to do.
Teams went into halftime at 0-0, neither one having gotten a particularly good look on goal.
Chicago came out of the gate in the second half really wanting to pressure higher with Boston mostly absorbing it. Boston kept trying to play their game, both to their benefit and detriment. They certainly were able to push the ball deep into Chicago territory, which sometimes resulted in a cross, but they also weren’t hitting anyone in particularly threatening position in front of goal. One of their better chances early in the second half was in the 58’ when Rosie White teed the ball up from distance and hit it hard, though it sailed over the goal.
Boston made their first sub in the 60’ with Midge Purce coming on for Tiffany Weimer and slotting in at right forward, pushing Leon left. Chicago also made a sub, with Dani Colaprico coming on for former Breaker Stephanie McCaffrey.
Boston nearly gave up a goal in the 72’ as a bad ball found the defenders clustered tightly and Press in position to pounce and slot it past Prudhomme. But the linesman called it offside, interrupting Chicago’s celebrations and surely sending a wave of relief through Boston’s defense. Chicago followed that up with renewed pressure, luring Prudhomme off her line to punch a ball out. But it fell to a Chicago player again, creating a shot on goal that had to be headed over the bar by Rosie White.
Boston made their second sub shortly after, as Ifeoma Onumonu came on for Adriana Leon in the 78’. Onumonu went right, switching Purce left. Then another quick sub in the 82’, with Katie Stengel making her debut for Boston and coming on for Natasha Dowie. Beard could clearly tell his anemic attack needed the equivalent of a nice rare steak and was hoping his three offensive subs could get the team feeling more robust in the attacking third.
It didn’t quite pay off, with Chicago still able to counter quickly. Casey Short had a nice step in the 88’, nullifying Onumonu’s own chance to run at goal, and got the ball wide for a Press shot on goal. Prudhomme came up with a nice save, one of several that had her putting her body squarely behind the ball.
Then Prudhomme came up even bigger in stoppage, once again in position to block a shot on goal with a leaping block that looked ungainly but was exactly what Boston needed. She preserved the 0-0 tie, letting Boston at least get away with a point despite Chicago’s repeated countering drives and the Breakers just slightly losing the plot in the last 10 or 15 minutes. Boston once again suffered from a lack of coordination in the attack, although Stengel had a decent ball in that would have been ripe for a finish had anyone been running on. Still, Purce and Onumonu are subs who provide an unreliable spark and will need to become much quicker at putting the ball into dangerous space or finding a target if they’re to make good on all their rookie potential.
Boston will next play the Seattle Reign away on Saturday, July 15.