Looking to quiet red-hot F.C. Kansas City, and make up for lost time following an underwhelming 2014 debut, the Breakers visited the Blues for a weekend showdown. In a rematch of May 25th's 2-0 defeat, the Breakers fell by the same score, surrendering a pair of soft penalty-kick goals to Lauren Holiday and her attacking 'mates.
In the opening moments, the Breakers appeared destined for an early tally, when Lisa De Vanna's pressure led to a bad giveaway in the back. Lianne Sanderson picked up the inadvertent pass, slotted Heather O'Reilly inside the box, and watched as the U.S. International lost her footing on a golden goal-scoring opportunity. FCKC 'keeper Nicole Barnhart calmly swallowed the shot on goal.
As the opening frame pressed onward, Kansas City started to develop an attacking rhythm, threatening Boston's back line with a goal-scoring opportunity of their own. With space in the middle of the park, Liegh Ann Robinson played a deep through ball onto the foot of striker Amy Rodriguez. The U.S. International took a touch into the edge of the box and immediately went down, hitting the carpet following a soft bump from Breakers defender Julie King. According to the center official, the contact proved worthy of an early-match penalty kick, despite King's adamant protest.
With unshakable poise, 2013 NWSL MVP Lauren Holiday stepped up to spot and calmly netted the go-ahead goal, sending Naeher to her right while finishing to her left.
Twenty-five minutes later, Holiday struck again. This time, fellow attacker Erika Tymrak weaved her way into the box, running directly toward Boston wing back Jazmyne Avant. The second-year Breaker held her ground, though a slight movement in Tymrak's direction sent the midfielder to the ground. Once again, the official pointed to the spot. And once again, the Breakers vehemently argued.
Moments later, Holiday sent Naeher to her left and finished to her right, again fooling the veteran Boston 'keeper.
In the early stages of the second frame, the Breakers once again showed signs of danger. But as the club pressed forward, they struggled to find space, and more importantly, a channel through FCKC's back line.
A handful of opportunities--a Lianne Sanderson shot that soared over the crossbar, a Julie King header that FCKC cleared off the line, and a well-paced hit from rookie Nkem Ezurike--threatened to cut the lead in half, though in the end, Kansas City only worked to expand their existing lead.
After sending 10 players forward, the Breakers found themselves vulnerable on a deep through ball to Rodriguez. The veteran went darting into Boston territory and raced past the club's back line, only to find herself alone, inside the 18, starring down Naeher. The 'keeper denied her first opportunity, rose to her feet, and made a sprawling save to send a rebound to safety, preserving the 2-0 deficit.
Though Sanderson's attack nearly pulled one back, they failed to make up for a pair of first-half penalties, falling victim to FCKC's defensive, sit-back approach. The team will have to wait until Wednesday to contend for their elusive third victory.
The Breakers will brace for a midweek matchup with Washington. Match kicks off at 7 PM from Harvard Stadium on Wednesday, June 11.