Just when a trio of role players--Maddy Evans, Jazmine Reeves, Nkem Ezurike--started to heat up, the Breakers returned to their early-season ways, struggling to turn in a 90-minute performance. On Sunday, the Spirit erased a one-goal deficit to claim a 3-2 victory, handing the Breakers their seventh loss in nine matches. With just six points to show for their 2014 campaign, Tom Durkin's side will need to relocate the fire that led to a 4-1 drubbing of Portland in late May. Otherwise, they will continue to lose ground on the playoff contenders--and fall completely out of the postseason picture.
Last Five: L-L-L-W-L
Despite an up-and-down 2014 debut, F.C. Kansas City has leveled off their inconsistencies, collecting four consecutive results dating back to May 14. On Wednesday, they shut out Western New York en route to a 1-0 victory, adding a little breathing room above fifth-placed Portland. If FCKC can continue to churn their offensive wheels, and buckle down defensively, as they have during their previous three contests, look out--the Blues may threaten the table's top teams.
Last Five: L-D-D-W-W
What to Watch For:
The Breakers have proven they can excel on both sides of the ball. And they've proven they can battle with the best teams in women's soccer. But now, more than one-third of the way through the NWSL season, they have not proven that quality soccer can span two halves, at least not in Boston. On Saturday, Durkin will need to rally his troops and instill a 90-minute mentality, regardless of the score and circumstance. In particular, the team needs a complete performance from its premier players, including Lianne Sanderson, Heather O'Reilly and Kristie Mewis. And it needs to reduce poor decisions in the back, especially with a level score--and especially with a lead. Durkin's side has all the tools necessary to compete for a playoff spot; they just need to harness those tools from minute 1 through minute 90.
In Kansas City, Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski will look for a second victory over Boston, as the team took down the Breakers on May 25. During that match, Andonovski's side turned in an efficient offensive performance, using just four shots on goal to earn a 2-0 win. This time around, his defense will need to hold tighter; after scoring six goals in their previous two matches, the Breakers will visit FCKC on an offensive high. Look for defenders Nikki Phillips, Leigh Ann Robinson and Becky Sauerbrunn, who have played together in 11 of 12 matches this season, to stand tall against Boston's veteran attackers.
If O'Reilly and Sanderson can find space work in the attacking third, as they did on Sunday (6 shots on goal), look for the Breakers to narrowly take down the fourth-place Blues.