It’s a quick turnaround for the Boston Breakers this week as they just played a midweek game against the Houston Dash (a very disappointing 3-1 loss) and will now have to set themselves to play the Orlando Pride.
The Breakers are in a trough right now. Playing the Dash was probably their best chance to pick up points as they were without key midfielders Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian, but their own injuries took too severe a toll and they made several critical mistakes without being able to put the ball on frame themselves.
Now they’re facing a pretty healthy Orlando Pride, who have two red-hot players riding a wave of goals and assists up the league standings. Alex Morgan and Marta have played together before in WPS, and this time around they took even less time to click with each other on the field. The Pride absolutely wrecked Sky Blue FC in their last game, beating them 5-0 off a brace by Morgan and Marta each and an extra thrown in from Dani Weatherholt. Morgan assisted Marta and Martareturned the favor. If you try to cover one, the other will break free. That is an order beyond tall for a defense as broken as Boston’s is at the moment.
But it’s not just Morgan and Marta who Boston needs to worry about; Camila has come along very nicely under Marta’s tutelage, and the Pride have a great contingent of Australians in Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy. Catley is a very good left back who can hit the diagonal to put in forwards on a dime and Kennedy has shown herself very proficient at helping Orlando keep possession after moving up from the back line into a DM position.
After their game against Houston, Beard revealed that replacement right fullback Midge Purce is playing with a tweaked hamstring. Brooke Elby and Christen Westphal won’t be available this weekend and Allysha Chapman is a big question mark who has to be evaluated day to day, being listed as “probable” for this game with a groin strain. Combine that with the back line having already gone a rigorous 90 against Houston on Wednesday, and Saturday looks bleak.
There’s also the fact that Amanda Da Costa will be retiring after this game to focus on graduate school and her coaching work. If there’s any silver lining to this, it’s that Da Costa will no doubt be going full Fury Road for her last game as a pro, should she get time. The Boston back line will need her best Furiosa because even at full strength it would be a job and a half dealing with Orlando’s attack, but with Purce and perhaps Julie King playing injured, it’s going to take the kind of effort that has you sleeping for 14 hours afterwards and then devouring a lumberjack platter for two upon rising.
Hopefully Morgan Andrews is rested as well after going in against Houston as a second-half sub; Boston will need her best effort to help shield the back line and perhaps even go box to box if they want to have a hope of scoring instead of just not giving up goals. If Andrews, Rosie White, and Adriana Leon all have a belter of a game, they could turn this game into more of a midfield battle instead of a fight to keep Orlando off of the back line. But if they’re as rough in possession as they were against Houston, they’re going to be spending a lot of time chasing the ball.
So: Boston’s back line is in rough shape. The midfield is tired from Houston. The forwards are still having trouble producing because they’re not getting the ball in dangerous positions and then when they do, they don’t put the ball on frame enough. This is, of course, soccer, and in soccer anything can happen. Mentally, it’s probably better for the team to go into this game not acting as though they’ve already been beaten. For fans, though, the adage “expect the worst, hope for the best” comes to mind.
Boston Breakers vs Orlando Pride kicks off at 4 PM ET on Saturday, August 19 at Jordan Field. It will stream live on go90 and NWSLSoccer.com.