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Match preview: Boston Breakers vs Sky Blue FC

Last game of the year, Brent. Can’t hold anything back now.

Another season has come and gone. As the desires of New Englanders slowly turn to leaf-peeping, apple-picking, and figuring out how to layer so you’re not too hot inside but comfortable outside, we conclude the 2017 Boston Breakers season with one final game at Jordan Field.

Ends are naturally a time for reflection, but before we can begin to ponder the totality of these last 24 games, we have one last thing yet to hurdle. Boston will take on Sky Blue FC, they of the improbable comeback, and will surely be looking for a positive end to what has been another season of struggle. They have the momentum of their last game, a 3-0 win against a very befuddled Washington Spirit, but Sky Blue, of course, has a player who, after years of being posed as the heir apparent to the pinnacle of the game, has cut a blazing path through the world’s best and emerged with hat tricks, glory, and a snub from FIFA’s Best award, which may honestly cement her as the actual best player in the world in 2017.

Yes, Sky Blue FC retain the talents of transcendent striker Sam Kerr, who has amassed 16 goals and four assists in 21 games and leads the league with 51 SOG. She once almost singlehandedly dragged Sky Blue to a five-goal comeback over the Seattle Reign by scoring four goals in one half, including a hat trick in 24 minutes. She is honestly a bit terrifying. But she is also a controllable factor, which is where Boston’s midfield comes in.

It is crucial to throttle off any service to Kerr whatsoever. The Breakers didn’t do a super great job of that the last time they met Sky Blue in August, although despite plenty of Kerr involvement, Boston still came away with only a 1-0 loss. But Boston has also beaten Sky Blue too, albeit a 1-0 win very early in the season when neither team had really settled into a rhythm, and Boston had a healthy Rose Lavelle then as well. Lavelle assisted Natasha Dowie on Boston’s lone goal for that game, and only one half of that duo will be returning for their third and final clash of the season.

In addition to Lavelle continuing to be held out in what Boston says is a precautionary measure over her still-sub-optimal hamstring, Christen Westphal and Julie King will also be out with right foot nerve damage and a left ankle sprain respectively. It’s honestly a shame Westphal’s nerve damage took her out of the back end of the season; Matt Beard really seemed to have found the way to get the best out of her as a fullback, and the improvement in her play from last year to this one was impressive.

Another key to the game is keeping Kelley O’Hara pinned back, although she can also hit a good long diagonal from Sky Blue territory. But Sky Blue’s defense is definitely vulnerable, and another game like the last one from Adriana Leon should yield plenty of shots for Boston. If you look at the last game Sky Blue played, a 1-1 tie with NC, you can see their defenders are prone to drifting apart in the box, their attention pulled to NC players and leaving an enormous gap right in front of goal. One forward in the right spot at the right time could tap in a Boston goal. There’s also potential here for someone like Onumonu to drift off the back line and get in behind with a ball over.

Whatever the result, Matt Beard will undoubtedly be taking this season’s results and madly churning over them. But for this one night, this one game, it would be great for Boston to get a win to end the season on a positive note, and at home. This is a team that has worked itself silly regardless of their place in the standings, and that kind of loyalty and effort deserves a reward.

Boston Breakers vs Sky Blue FC kicks off at 7 PM ET on Saturday, September 30 at Jordan Field. It will stream live on NWSLSoccer.com.