The Boston Breakers need points to stay in the playoff race. Despite currently sitting at eighth in the league, they're only three points behind number four FC Kansas City. The difference between making playoffs and getting knocked out is still a fairly narrow margin, which means Boston can't afford to leave any points on the table, especially not with World Cup players starting to trickle back to their teams.
Boston's World Cup players are a mixed bag at this point. Bianca Sierra is still with the Mexican National Team as they head to the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Canadian international Nkem Ezurike should also be out for the Pan Ams. Rafinha could be available. Alyssa Naeher probably won't be available as U.S. players were released for a few days to visit home but will reconvene on Friday in New York for a celebratory World Cup parade. Kyah Simon continues to have the best vacation ever while her paperwork is presumably processing and she recovers from that grueling World Cup grind.
The flip side of that is that FCKC won't have players like Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Holiday to cause trouble. Expect lineup continuity from coach Tom Durkin, who has taken to playing Maddy Evans centrally, though Kristie Mewis sometimes pinches in to set up the attack.
FC Kansas City is looking hot at the moment, coming off a 3-0 dismantling of the Washington Spirit. FCKC took only six shots to the Spirit's 11, but put all six shots on frame compared to the Spirit's two shots on frame. Boston will need to keep a careful eye on Shea Groom in front of goal; Washington left her completely unmarked in the box, allowing her a free header on goalkeeper Kelsey Wys.
Boston will also have to break down FCKC's defense, perhaps pitting Kristie Mewis against Yael Averbuch. Averbuch's relative inexperience at defense combined with Boston's propensity to work the majority of their attack through the left could see much of the action on one side of the field. It would be nice, however, if Boston could find a way to consistently open up play throughout the entire midfield.
Right fullback Lauren Lazo could be one to watch for additions to the attack. Lazo is starting to get forward more as she settles into her position and has shown she can create decent chances off crosses. Then it's a matter of finding a finisher in the box, in which case all Breakers fans should be crossing all available digits that Kyah Simon's paperwork goes through as quickly as possible.
The game kicks off at 7 PM ET on July 9 at Soldiers Field and will stream live on NWSL's Youtube channel.