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Breakers vs. Houston Dash 2014: Match Preview

On Sunday, the Breakers will welcome expansion-side Houston to Harvard Stadium, seeking to avenge a disconcerting season opener.

The Breakers will need to slow down Houston forward Stephanie Ochs to earn a win at home
The Breakers will need to slow down Houston forward Stephanie Ochs to earn a win at home
Matt King

Houston Dash at Boston Breakers
4/20/14, 6:30 PM
Harvard Stadium, Allston, MA

Current Form:

The Breakers turned in a lackluster opening performance on Sunday, suffering a 0-3 defeat to host Seattle Reign. From start to finish, Seattle found space beyond Boston's midfield, creating opportunities from every spot in the attacking third: crosses from the wing, through balls down the middle, and lofting through balls over the top. On Seattle's end of the field, the Breakers mustered just two shots on frame. Rookie midfielder/forward Mollie Pathman served as an early target, though Tom Durkin's squad rarely made use of the up-and-coming attacker. After little offensive build-up--and slow, unenthused marking in the back--the Breakers will need to make dramatic strides to earn three points at home.

Last Match: L

Despite dropping their franchise opener to visiting Portland, Houston showed signs of promise throughout Saturday's loss. Forward Stephanie Ochs nearly equalized in the 76th minute and then, in injury time, substitute Lindsay Elston forced a sprawling save from Portland ‘keeper Badine Angerer. The Dash scattered 10 shots across 90 minutes of play, dismissing any attacking jitters prior to the match. Head Coach Randy Waldrum will look for more of the same this week in Boston; a handful of strong saves serve as the difference for the Dash, who could very well have stolen a point from the defending NWSL champs.

Last Match: L

What to Watch For:

This week, the Breakers will hope to return newly-acquired midfielder Kristie Mewis to the Starting XI, who missed Sunday's match with a sprained ankle. Her return would allow the Breakers to feature a highly-anticipated Mewis-Heather O'Reilly pairing, adding another creative element behind Boston's forward of choice.

Up top, Durkin will have a decision to make. On Sunday, he started Katie Schoepfer and featured Lisa De Vanna while passing on rookie Jazmine Reeves. Schoepfer committed two fouls and took no shots; De Vanna turned in 33 quiet minutes. Both players will ultimately make an impact in 2014, though we expect the powerful De Vanna to earn the start this time around. The team will need to create far more chances  -  and stand taller in the defensive midfield  -  to earn a result on Sunday.

For Houston, a strong inaugural showing has Waldrum and co. poised for a week-two victory. The attack, which benefits from an unorthodox 3-4-3 formation, gained assertive play from Ochs (78 minutes, 2 shots) and midfielder Jackson Jordan (90 minutes, 3 shots), while a three-woman back line held firm against world-class striker Christine Sinclair. Houston will once again face a talented goalkeeper in Alyssa Naeher, though the team will likely make few changes ahead of Sunday's Easter-day match.

Though we expect the Breakers to build on a forgettable season opener, we also expect Houston to push hard against Boston's struggling back line. Can the Breakers hold off Ochs and a goal-hungry Houston attack? Tougher, grittier play from the back four may help Durkin earn his first NWSL win.

To purchase tickets for Sunday's match at Harvard Stadium, visit BreakersTickets.com.