Seattle Reign at Boston Breakers
6/19/14, 7:00 PM
Harvard Stadium, Alston, MA
During last week's matchup with the rising Spirit, Tom Durkin's crew collected their first shutout of the season--and received yet another standout performance from rookies Mollie Pathman, Nkem Ezurike and Jazmine Reeves. Although the win serves as only their third in 11 attempts, the Breakers have won two of their past four, outscoring their opponnents 8-6 during that stretch. The team will have to fend off the league's top squad to keep the winning streak alive.
Last Five: L-W-L-L-W
After a disparaging start to their inaugural season, the Reign added several pieces--including forward Sydney Leroux--in hopes of fielding a more competitive roster. Laura Harvey's club has not disappointed, riding an unbeaten streak through their first 11 matches (9-0-2). On Saturday, the team put a three-spot on Chicago, using Kim Little's 10th and 11th goals of the season to earn a 3-1 victory. But in Seattle, offensive consistency has been met by stingy defensive play; the team has conceded a league-low nine goals while collecting four shutouts.
Last Five: W-D-D-W-W
What to Watch for:
On Thursday, attention will again focus on Durkin's Starting XI, as it did following the team's 4-1 thumping of Portland. During last week's win over Washington, rookie forwards Reeves and Ezurike continually found space in the attacking third to create danger in front of goal. Reeve's pesky defensive play helped develop Boston's first goal, while her brilliant service set up the second. Will Durkin find a way to incorporate the pair--and forward Pathman--on Thursday?
Without U.S. Internationals Kristie Mewis and Heather O'Reilly, who will once again fulfill international duties, look for Durkin to field a five-midfield roster and a lone striker, featuring Nikki Washington, Maddie Evans, Lianne Sanderson, Pathman and Reeves, with Ezurike occupying the No. 9 role. If he does, capable midfielder Joanna Lohman will have to earn minutes off the bench, a price worth paying to preserve the on-field relationship between Durkin's three standout rookies.
For Seattle, roster decisions will also play a factor, as Harvey will enter Thursday's match without international players Sydney Leroux, Hope Solo, Stephanie Cox and Kim Little, who stands just one goal shy of Lauren Holiday's 12-goal single-season scoring record. In lieu of Little and Leroux's absence, look for Harvey to insert Japanese International Nahomi Kawasumi, who has scored three goals in seven appearances while on loan from Japanese side INAC Kobe Leonessa. In the back, the Reign will look to cover the gap left by U.S. International Stephanie Cox, who, along with Lauren Barnes, Kendall Fletcher, and Elli Reed, comprise the league's top defense. Can Harvey's crew earn a result without its dynamic forward pairing--and without its defensive leader?
Look for the Breakers to turn in a far more competitive performance than their opening day disappointment, forcing the Reign to battle for a 12th consecutive result.
To buy tickets to Thursday's match at Harvard Stadium, visit BreakersTickets.com.