Boston Breakers at Seattle Reign FC
4/13/14, 7:00 PM
Memorial Stadium, Seattle, WA
The Breakers ended the 2013 season with more questions than answers, though a promising run - four results in their final five matches - set the table for an optimistic off-season. A strong pre-season campaign saw a handful of unsung heroes emerge from the roster sheet, including midfielders Maddie Evans and Mollie Pathman. The pair will likely serve as role players in 2014, spelling a talented attacking unit that features Lisa De Vanna, Kristie Mewis, Heather O’Reilly and Lianne Sanderson.
Last Five (2013): W-T-W-W-L
After a disappointing 2013 campaign that ended 18 points shy of playoff contention, the Reign re-signed GM and Head Coach Laura Harvey through the 2017 season. Harvey will work to harness Syndey Leroux and the rest of her reworked roster, vying to rank among the NWSL elite. To do so, she will need to make the most of a star-less back line, one that surrendered 36 goals last season.
Last Five (2013): W-L-L-L-L
What to Watch For:
Despite losing Sydney Leroux to host Seattle, the Breakers reworked their attack, adding stability from top to bottom. Expect Lisa De Vanna to occupy the center forward spot while interchanging with Lianne Sanderson, who will run beside midfielders Heather O’Reilly and Kristie Mewis. The attacking quartet will, in all likelihood, make a seamless transition; the true questions pertain to the back line. If natural forward Courtney Jones starts beside Cat Whitehill, she will immediately have to contend with Leroux, one of the league’s quickest forwards. Jones has the skillset to compete as a central defender, but her debut may serve as a "trial-by-fire" experience.
For Seattle, the attack will also serve the primary focal point, featuring Leroux, U.S. International Megan Rapinoe and newly-acquired attackers Kim Little, Nahomi Kawasumi and Beverly Goebel. Much like their counterpart, however, Seattle’s backline raises significant concerns. If Boston’s speedy attack forges past defensive midfielder Keelin Winters, the Breakers will advance on a vastly familiar back line - one that failed to record a single shutout in 2013. Proven left back Stephanie Cox, the unit’s sure leader, will line up beside a questionable cast that will include Elli Reed (RB), Lauren Barnes (CB) and Amanda Frisbie (CB). Versatile defender Kate Deines and late-round draft pick Megan Brigman may also join the Starting XI, though neither option seems poised to shut down Boston’s suddenly elite front line.
On Sunday night, expect a flurry of attacking opportunities, with both sides fighting for an early goal. In the end, we expect Tom Durkin to earn his first NWSL victory, guiding the Breakers past Leroux’s crew in a season-opening slugfest.