Washington Spirit at Boston Breakers
Harvard Stadium, Allston, MA
6/11/15, 7:30 PM
Now 2-8-0 and staring up at the rest of the NWSL table, the Breakers sit in the midst of a prolonged rut. A pair of bright spots--a 4-1 victory over Portland and a 3-2 win over Sky Blue F.C.--seem lost during a season with few positive results, forcing Head Coach Tom Durkin to re-asses virtually every player on his second-year club. If the Breakers have any hope of advancing beyond the regular season, they will need to reduce mistakes in the back, develop a semblance of attacking continuity, and harness the best 11 for the team, regardless of individual talent.
Last Five: L-L-W-L-L
The third-place Spirit, now 11 matches deep, have earned a result in each of their previous five matches, collecting a victory in four of those five. All cylinders seem to be firing for Mark Parsons crew, who have benefited from outstanding attacking campaigns from forward Jodie Taylor and midfielder Diana Matheson, who have combined for 11 of the team's 21 goals. The spirit will look for continued offensive chemistry--and a second consecutive gritty performance in the back--on Wednesday.
Last Five: W-D-W-W-W
What to Watch For:
At this point, Boston supporters have to wonder: which Breakers squad will show up on Wednesday? In the classic case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Breakers have shown more of their inner-Hyde, struggling to build on a middle-of-the-road 2013 season. Hyde replicates himself as a club that makes dangerous and ill-conceived decisions in the back, creates opportunities but not goals, and turns in 45-minute performances on a regular basis. If the Breakers want to uncover their fleeting Dr. Jekyll, they will need to control the match's tempo, continue to build behind Lisa De Vanna, establish a biting counter-attack, and, dare we say it, take a roster risk (or two). Durkin has few tricks left in his bag, but will need to pull all of them on Wednesday. With his starters tired, frustrated and in many cases, lacking confidence, look for the first-year head coach to run with a renewed Starting XI. He desperately needs a change of pace.
In Washington, Parsons' attack shares few similarities with his counterpart, serving as a model of consistency thus far. Taylor, Matheson and co. have yet to experience a performance blip, scoring 21 goals in 11 matches--a streak only surpassed by the top-ranked Seattle Reign. But for Parsons, the back line has served as a weak link, surrendering 20 goals during the same span. An unconventional 3-6-1 formation has undoubtedly benefited the attack's high-flying start, though starters Ali Krieger, Victoria Huster and Robyn Gale often appear outmatched in the back. If Parson's defensive trio can replicate a 1-0 shutout win over Chicago, the Spirit just may join the ranks of NWSL elite. Can the Capitol-City Club survive with a three-defender, six-midfielder set?
On Wednesday, the Breakers hope to answer that question for themselves, darting through Washington's back line for their third win of the season.
To buy tickets to Wednesday's midweek matchup, visit BreakersTickets.com.