The Breakers have two big reasons to win Saturday night: keep their four-game unbeaten streak alive but more importantly put pressure on league leaders Portland.
The Breakers have two big reasons to win Saturday night: keep their four-game unbeaten streak alive, but more importantly put pressure on league leaders Sky Blue FC and the Portland Thorns. Those two teams played Thursday night in Portland, and Sky Blue FC took a 1-0 win, moving into a first-place tie with Portland.
With a win Saturday, the Breakers remain in second place and pull within just two points of Sky Blue FC and Portland. A draw sees them tied for second with FC Kansas City, who would both be level on 8 points. A Breakers loss puts FC Kansas City in second place with 10 points. The Breakers also have a game in hand. There’s a lot riding on Saturday’s game, and Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole knows that FC Kansas City is dangerous all over the field, particularly up top. That certainly will test Boston’s back line.
"They’re good," Cole said. "From the beginning I felt they were one of the teams that had a great allocation, and they have important pieces throughout the team - Lauren Cheney, Nicole Barnhart, Becky Sauerbrunn- and picking up Mexican goal scorer (Renae) Cuéllar. And they’ve done a good job with the other players as a supporting cast, making a name for themselves in the league. We’re excited about the challenge of taking them on. And we have a challenge for our defense to shut down the many attacking qualities they have."
The Breakers, fresh off a 1-1 draw Saturday with the Washington Spirit on the road, courtesy of Joanna Lohman’s first goal of the year, come into the match with the league’s leading scorer in Sydney Leroux (4 goals, 9 points) and league’s assist leader, Lianne Sanderson, who has three on the season.
Sydney Leroux will look to add to her league lead in goals scored Saturday night (Photo: Mike Gridley)
FC Kansas City comes into Saturday’s game at 2-1-1, tied for fourth place with the Western New York Flash. They’ve allowed the fewest goals in the league this year, due in large part to U.S. Women’s National Team keeper Nicole Barnhart, who has allowed a league-low three goals and is second in the NWSL with two shutouts. She has 15 saves on the season.
The Blues are dangerous going forward, led by Cuéllar, who has a team-best three goals, second highest in the league. FC Kansas City has a bevy of attacking personalities, including former Breaker Lauren Cheney (1 goal, 2 assists) as well as Sinead Farrelly (1G). They’re also deep in the midfield, led by Jen Buczkowski, Canadian international Desiree Scott, and Hanson, Mass. native Kristie Mewis. On defense, the Blues have a formidable back line with U.S. Women’s National Team member Becky Sauerbrunn, Leigh Ann Robinson, Canadian international Lauren Sesselmann, and Merritt Mathias.
The Breakers, meanwhile, have arguably the strongest play in the attacking third in the league. They’ve put 30 of their 50 shots on goal, led by Leroux with 13 shots (7 on goal, 4 goals scored) and Heather O’Reilly with 11 shots (10 on goal), two of which have found the back of the net. The Breakers also have seen the recent emergence of two of their college draft picks, holding midfielder Mariah Nogueira and defender Jo Dragotta, who both have started three straight games for the Breakers and have logged 256 and 266 minutes, respectively. The Breakers back four has gone through a few rotations due to injuries, but one constant has been center back Cat Whitehill, who has played all 360 minutes this season for Boston. Lohman and Sanderson are the only other two Breakers to play in all 360 minutes this year.
Mexico international keeper, Cecilia Santiago, is expected to get the start Saturday. It will be her second match of the season. In a 2-1 win April 27 in Rochester, N.Y., against the Western New York Flash, Santiago made five saves, and with the victory became the youngest keeper (18 years old) to win a game in goal in the history of the three U.S. women’s professional soccer leagues (WUSA, WPS, NWSL). Keeper Ashley Phillips is unavailable for Saturday’s game. Colleen Boyd has replaced Phillips on the roster for the match.
Saturday’s game can be seen live beginning at 8:35 p.m. ET on the NWLS YouTube page. Click here for the direct link to the match.
After a two-game road trip, the Breakers return home Saturday, May 25, to take on the Washington Spirit for the third time this season. You can purchase tickets now at www.breakerstickets.com or by calling 617-945-1704.