By MC Barrett
The Boston Breakers (6-7-6, 24 points) will look to do their part to stay in the playoff race when they face Portland Thorns FC (10-5-4, 34 points) for the third and final time this season, Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, Mass.
Boston and Portland split their first two meetings of the season, with each team earning a victory away from home. The Breakers opened up the series on the road, defeating the Thorns, 2-0, on July 6. Boston’s Sydney Leroux scored twice in the win and was later named the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Player of the Week for her performance. Heather O’Reilly assisted on both of Leroux’s goals, while goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made seven saves, including several point-blank stops in the second half, to preserve the shutout.
However, Portland bounced back to win the second match of the series, coming from behind to steal a 2-1 victory at Dilboy Stadium on July 21. Lianne Sanderson scored her second goal of the season to give the host Breakers an early lead, but two unanswered goals by Alex Morgan and Meleana Shim resulted in a win for the visiting Thorns.
Both teams enter Wednesday’s match looking to rebound from disappointing results this past weekend and pick up three crucial points in the playoff picture. The Breakers need to win to stay alive; a draw also keeps them in the hunt, but they would need some help from the rest of the teams in the league. Portland, meanwhile, after dropping a 3-2 decision to league-leaders FC Kansas City Sunday night, looks to recover quickly and can punch their ticket to the NWSL playoffs with a win or draw against the Breakers Wednesday night.
For sixth-place Boston, a win Wednesday is critical in maintaining any shot of making the playoffs. Despite an early goal from Kyah Simon and a second-half goal by Sanderson, the Breakers saw their two-goal lead slip away and had to settle for a 2-2 draw at home against the Western New York Flash Saturday night. The draw did however keep Boston in the playoff hunt. The Breakers playoff hopes will require some outside help, as they need they Flash to lose their next three games and the Chicago Red Stars to either tie or draw one of their three remaining matches.
It may be an uphill battle, but the Breakers have embraced the challenge.
"At this point we have the mentality that we have nothing to lose and we need to get after it,” reflected Boston captain and interim head coach Cat Whitehill, following Saturday’s draw against the Flash. “The silver lining is we’re not out yet of the playoff hunt. We’re going to keep coming back and we’ll come back Wednesday."
Following Wednesday’s match against Portland, the Breakers will play their final home game of the 2013 season when they host former Boston College star and Hanson, Mass. native Kristie Mewis, and first-place FC Kansas City at 6 p.m. ET, Saturday, Aug. 10. The Breakers will then hit the road, squaring off against the Western New York Flash in the final game of the regular season. That match will be played Aug. 17 and broadcast nationally on FOX Soccer at 8 p.m. ET. (Note that this is a time change from the initial scheduled start of 7:35 p.m. ET).
Visit www.breakerstickets.com or call 617-945-1704 to purchase your tickets for the last Breakers home games of the 2013 season. Season tickets for 2014 are also available for purchase now until Dec. 1, 2013, at a special discounted price.