The Boston Breakers returned to action after the FIFA break on a temperate Friday night at Jordan Field, taking on FC Kansas City. Both teams were without key players due to international duty the day before; KC was missing Becky Sauerbrunn and Sydney Leroux while Boston didn’t have Abby Smith and Midge Purce. Boston was also out defenders Christen Westphal and Brooke Elby.
But if Boston was defensively a little bit ragged, they poured their hearts into the offense. Morgan Andrews especially took over the midfield, doing a little bit of everything from box to box.
Andrews started off early, pushing high with Stengel and trying to slip the ball into the box for her. Stengel still looks out of step with the rest of the team; in the 10’ Weimer managed to touch the ball in the air around a defender and squirt the ball back to Stengel, who was waiting in the perfect spot in front of goal. And yet she didn’t seem to expect the ball and scuffed a clear chance at shooting.
Boston continued to have a few more attacking ideas than Kansas City through the first 20 minutes, although many times their attempts to release Stengel couldn’t get past Yael Averbuch or Nicole Barnhart.
Then in the 21’ Desiree Scott just took off through the midfield like a Canadian knife through butter. Angela Salem looked completely wrongfooted, late to chase after her and unable to catch up. Scott found Christina Gibbons, who assisted on Maegan Kelly’s tap in as the out-of-position Boston defense was unable to stop them.
But Boston managed to pull it together a few minutes later as very quick ball movement pinged it to Stengel, who dropped it off for White. White took her chances from about 25 yards out and dinked it off the post and in to make it 1-1.
Not three minutes later, Adriana Leon received a short corner and hit a nice low ball into the middle, where White one-timed it in a very nice lobbed ball that curled under the bar to make it 2-1 in the 30’.
Boston kept moving the ball around for the rest of the half, cooling off on trying to feed Stengel over the top and instead working more on building through the lines. The fullbacks started to get more engaged, King especially, perhaps growing more confident she wouldn’t get burned by a KC counter. But Chapman also made a darting attempt late in the half, neatly running into space when dropping Boston attackers pulled their defenders with them. With Boston’s forwards all moving decently around the box and Andrews underneath them, Boston comfortably pressed KC until the end of the first half.
Kansas City came back in the second half really looking to dig back into possession and hit the ball to Kelly, who was lurking in the back line. Frisbie came a bit more alive in the second half, but Boston’s defense stayed a bit patchy.
Boston made their first sub in the 59’ with Emilie Haavi on for Weimer, going in the left midfield, then another quick sub in the 62’ with Natasha Dowie on for Stengel in a like-for-like. Despite the fresh legs in attack, Boston kept having to play it out of the back as they traded possession back and forth with KC. Gradually they dug back in. Haavi won a great fight in the 66’ and hit Chapman on the break. Chapman’s ball right across the face of goal wasn’t in reach of anyone, though.
In the 69’ Nice quick ball movement from Leon and Dowie created a fed ball through for Rosie White, but it got defended out, just as many other Boston balls into the box were defended out for the rest of the half. The teams were trading possession in the midfield, trying to get set for their forwards. Leon drove in on goal in the 77’ at a sharp angle but a leaping save from Barnhart parried it wide. Boston continued to try to hold it in the midfield through Salem and Andrews; Andrews cooled off noticeably in the second half, dropping into a more defensive holding role in order to try and help keep the ball.
Boston’s lack of scoring and their ragged defense bit them in the 81’ as KC created confusion in the box and Erika Tymrak slipped the ball past Prudhomme to make it 2-2. Boston’s response was a little bit one-dimensional, trying to overload on the left and not hitting the switch to the right. Leon finally hit a switch in the 83’ which almost put White in on goal again, but she was well-screened by a defender. White had another chance a minute later off a great ball from Dowie but once again was stymied by Barnhart.
Boston’s final sub was in the 89’ with Ifeoma Onumonu on for Leon, who was understandably frustrated with not getting a goal despite really going all-in on effort for the better of 90 minutes. Onumonu was definitely the spark Boston needed but her sub was a little too late to really impact the game and the full time ended at 2-2.
This was honestly Boston’s game to lose and it reflected plainly in several frustrated player interviews after the game. “Obviously disappointed, we expect more of ourselves,” said Julie King. “I think everybody’s going to walk away from this one a little bit disappointed. And there’s no excuses for letting any goals in really... We’ve had some injuries and change up in the back line...but still, no excuses. We still gotta go out there and play our game.”
On the other hand, the offense looked quite good, very fluid at times, in the first half. But they backed off in the second half, stuck too deep in their own territory and not winning the ball off of goal kicks. They’ll surely be disappointed not to get three important points at home, points that could have positioned them to make a drive for mid-table.
Boston will next play the Washington Spirit away on Saturday, August 12 at 3:30 PM ET.