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Breakers 2014 Depth Chart: Projecting the Forwards

Our position-by-position break down continues with Boston's new-look corps of forwards. Will the Breakers survive without superstar striker Sydney Leroux? See for yourself.

Breakers forward Lianne Sanderson will look to build on a strong 2013 campaign
Breakers forward Lianne Sanderson will look to build on a strong 2013 campaign

After an exciting-yet-often-chaotic 2013 off-season, the Breakers will enter 2014 with several new faces - both on the field and on the sideline. So, how does the roster size up? And which players will serve as difference-makers this season? Our break down continues with Boston's reimagined front line.

2014 Projected Depth Chart: Forwards

1. Lianne Sanderson

After living in the shadow of Sydney Leroux, the British-born forward will have the opportunity to establish herself as Boston's elite finisher. Sure, Sanderson may never match Leroux's productivity, but she will serve as a highly-coveted commodity along Tom Durkin's front line. The third-year forward excels over the ball, creates space and finishes with class. Expect Sanderson to soar in 2014.

2014 Projection: 21 appearances (21 starts), 1880 minutes, 9 goals, 4 assists

2. Lisa De Vanna

The Australian International will look to build on an outstanding 2013 campaign, adding a veteran presence to Boston's front line. Last season, De Vanna scored five goals and added two assists with Sky Blue FC, later joining the Melbourne Victory, where she contributed 14 goals and eight assists. De Vanna will now serve as a steady attacking option in Boston, benefiting from blistering pace and world-class dribbling skills. Don't overlook De Vanna's presence; she will immediately contribute in The Hub, as she has for every former club.

2014 Projection: 18 appearances (17 starts), 1540 minutes, 6 goals, 2 assists

3. Nkem Ezurike

Although Ezurike has yet to prove herself on the NWSL stage, we have no doubt she will break into the Starting XI in 2014. The Canadian International offers a rare combination of physical strength and uncontested speed, providing a highly-coveted skillset along Durkin's front line. The Breakers may be patient with Ezurike  -  they have several proven options behind her  -  though her giftedness speaks for itself: Ezurike will make an impact in 2014.

2014 Projection: 16 appearances (12 starts), 1130 minutes, 4 goals, 1 assist

4. Melissa Ortiz

We have to admit: we don't quite know what to expect from Ortiz, a Colombian international who will make her NWSL debut in 2014. She arrives with positive scouting reports, and has garnered praise from Breakers' GM Lee Billiard, though a small school college campaign at Lynn University (Fla.) and limited appearances for the Colombian National Team leave us asking for more. If the reports are true  -  and Ortiz offers the strength and finishing ability scouts have promised  -  she could find herself in the Starting XI. Until then, we're skeptical, but remain excited about her upside.

2014 Projection: 12 appearances (6 starts), 2 goals, 1 assist, 630 minutes

5. Courtney Jones

During the 2013 off-season, Jones watched as her status fell from starting forward to second option off the bench. We honestly believe that Jones will contribute in 2014; we're just not convinced she will contribute as a forward. In an interview last fall, Jones alluded to her excitement about "running, catching the ball, and beating people down the line," but admitted that she would be content serving as a defender, as she did in 2013. As a forward, Jones' speed and tenacity will be warmly welcomed, though the names on the top of our list make playing time an inevitable question. We expect the UNC alum to play several roles in 2014: a midfielder when Heather O'Reilly and Kristie Mewis join the U.S. National Team, a forward when Durkin needs a spot start, and a late-match spark when the attack needs a little pick-me-up. The do-it-all forward will do anything to see the field, and her persistence will show.

2014 Projection: 14 appearances (6 starts), 1 goal, 1 assist, 720 minutes

6. Katie Schoepfer

By all accounts, "Schoep" had a down year in 2013. Twenty appearances led to just two goals, leading Lisa Cole (and eventfully Cat Whitehill) to look away from the Penn State alum. We don't doubt Schoepfer's potential, and believe she has the skillset to replicate a nine-goal campaign from 2011, though Durkin's roster may not award the opportunity to do so. With proven talent ahead  -  and up-and-coming talent behind  -  Schoepfer may fall from the ranks of regular contributors. The New London, Conn. native will have to locate her form early and often to become a regular contributor.

2014 projection: 8 appearances (0 starts), 1 goal, 0 assists, 155 minutes

7. Jazmine Reeves

After joining the Breakers in round three of the 2014 NWSL Draft, many analysts described Reeves as an absolute bargain. The All-American forward scored 11 goals for Virginia Tech last season, showing significant improvement from her previous three collegiate seasons. Though we have just one standout season to review  -  Reeves struggled to break free from the pack in her first three seasons  -  she benefits from the speed to beat opposing defenders, a skill that offers value at every level. Reeves may not consistently contribute in 2014, but with further development, will play a steady role for Tom Durkin's Breakers.

2014 Projection: 4 appearances (0 starts), 0 goals, 0 assists, 75 minutes

8. Mollie Pathman

Pathman, much like her rookie peers, benefits from the versatility to contribute from virtually every position. We define the Duke grad as a forward, but others may highlight her ability to play as an outside midfielder  -  or even as an outside defender. Durkin will most likely play into Pathman's strengths, using the pre-season to shuffle her around the field. We expect a relatively quiet season, regardless of her position, though Pathman will certainly take advantage of any attacking opportunity sent her way: the young forward collected 29 assists in four seasons with the Blue Devils, solidifying her role as an intelligent, creative forward.

2014 Projection: 2 appearances (0 starts), 0 goals, 1 assist, 35 minutes