April 19, 2014 – After opening with last weekend’s trip to Seattle, the Boston Breakers are back to base ahead of this Sunday’s home opener with Houston Dash. The Breakers’ 2014 National Women’s Soccer League season did not start according to plan as second-half goals saw Seattle seal a 3-0 win. This Sunday’s match at Harvard Stadium (kickoff at 6.30 p.m. ET) provides the opportunity to bounce straight back.
"After losing the season opener in Seattle, we had a lot of questions to answer," Breakers Head Coach Tom Durkin said. "We are really looking forward to playing at home and get a win in front of our fans. Houston had a very good performance in their home opener and were unfortunate not to get at least a draw from the match. Randy Waldrum is a very good coach and has the Dash playing well right out of the gate despite some injuries and absentees that are still in Europe."
Houston played its first ever NWSL game last Saturday, and the result was a narrow 1-0 loss to defending champions Portland Thorns FC. A bumper crowd of 8,097 was in attendance at BBVA Compass Stadium, and the Dash travels to Harvard looking to get off the mark for goals and points. The league’s first expansion team is captained by Canadian Women’s National Team goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who was called into action on a number of occasions against Portland.
Head coach Randy Waldrum, who spent 15 years in charge of the Notre Dame women’s soccer program, will be without midfielder Brittany Bock after she suffered a torn ACL in her left knee in the Thorns match. Bock left the field and incredibly, returned to play a further eight minutes before departing on 23 minutes. The 27-year-old is due to have surgery on April 24 and will miss the rest of the current season. Canadian international defender Lauren Sesselmann was lost earlier this year to an ACL injury, and the Dash are without US Women’s National Team defensive duo Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen until the completion of Swedish club Tyresö FF’s Champions League campaign.
In terms of attacking options for the Dash, Boston was likely to face up against US Under-23 forward Kealia Ohai, who left the field with a right ankle complaint last weekend. She has since been ruled out of Sunday's match. The Breakers will need to look out for forwards Ella Masar, Stephanie Ochs, Lindsay Elston and Tiffany McCarty, as well as midfielders Becky Edwards and Jordan Jackson, who all went close against Portland.
The Breakers have the players to do damage in the final third with England’s Lianne Sanderson, scorer of five goals with seven assists in 2013, given the captain’s armband. US Women’s National Team midfielder of over 200 caps, Heather O’Reilly, set up midfielder Joanna Lohman against Seattle for a half-volley which hit the crossbar and looked agonizingly close to being given as a goal.
Australia forward Lisa De Vanna came on as a 57th-minute replacement for Mollie Pathman last time out and the six-goal Sky Blue FC standout of last season is in contention to start in Boston coach Tom Durkin’s first home NWSL game. At the other end, the Breakers can call upon Alyssa Naeher, who was in imperious form in Seattle despite the scoreline. She pulled off seven saves including a terrific tip onto the post after quickly changing direction to reach Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe’s 18-yarder.
"The Breakers need to regain the preseason form that put multiple goals past college competition while steeling themselves to the rigors of pressure at the professional level, and work to maintain the build up style with the elevated speed of play and tempo of the NWSL," Durkin added. "The second half in Seattle really got away from us when we lost our legs, and we strayed quite far from our game plan. I know these ladies are capable of great things if they believe in themselves and improve the collective performance on both sides of the ball for the full match."
Following Sunday’s clash with Houston, the Breakers are at home again a week later (Sunday, April 27 at 7 p.m.) as they take on Sky Blue FC. To secure your seat, visit www.breakerstickets.com or call 617-945-1704.
- By Chris Brookes