Washington Spirit at Boston Breakers
6/1/2014, 6:30 PM
Harvard Stadium, Allston, MA
On Wednesday, while fielding a near-reserve roster, the Breakers turned in their best match of the season--and took down the defending champs, 4-1. Their surprise rout overshadowed four consecutive losses and, in the eyes of many supporters, drew attention to their standout draft class, including forwards Nkem Ezurike (1 goal) and Jazmine Reeves (3 goals, 1 assist). Based on the performance of his reserves, Tom Durkin will have crucial roster decisions to make ahead of Sunday's matchup with Washington.
Last Five: L-L-L-L-W
After a wildly disappointing 2014 campaign, the Spirit have shown signs of growth through their first nine matches. The fifth-placed club quietly touts one of the league's premier attacks, averaging two goals per match, good enough for second on the NWSL table. On Monday, during a 3-2 victory over Houston, forward Jodie Taylor picked up her third goal of the season, while midfielder Diana Matheson collected her fifth. The Spirit will visit Boston on a three-game unbeaten streak.
What to Watch For:
Until Wednesday's offensive awakening, the Breakers struggled to develop consistency along the front line. Now, they will welcome Washington riding the high of a 4-1 thumping of Portland, a match that stunned even the most optimistic supporters. When the two teams square off on Sunday, fans will likely cue into Durkin's starting XI, wondering how he will handle the rise of his lesser knowns. Several of Boston's premier players--Heather O'Reilly, Lianne Sanderson, Kristie Mewis, Joanna Lohman, and even Mollie Pathman--watched the majority of Wednesday's match from the bench, failing to factor into the team's four-goal outburst.
So, who will feature in Durkin's 11, and will they be able to carry Wednesday's momentum? Expect Ezurike and Reeves to earn another nod, with Maddie Evans, who quietly turned in a stellar match, serving as a top option off the bench. If Reeves and Ezurike can continue to find space up top, O'Reilly, Mewis and Sanderson will do all the creating.
The Breakers offense, however, will need to counter Washington's unit, which has scored three goals in four of nine matches this season. Playmakers Matheson and Taylor have consistently found space in the attack third and, as Houston discovered on Monday, frequently take advantage of goal-scoring opportunities. Midfielder Christine Nairn (2 goals) has also developed into a formidable attacker who creates behind Taylor. The Spirit will likely run straight at Boston's back line, forcing the team to hold tight--as they did on Wednesday--for a full 90 minutes.
In the end, look for Durkin's crew to earn a second consecutive result, edging out the Spirit at home.
To buy tickets to Sunday's match at Harvard Stadium, visit BreakersTickets.com.