In a span of seven days, the Breakers have won two of three, including victories over first-place Sky Blue FC and Saturday’s 2-0 win over second-place Portland Thorns FC. In front of 12,436 at JELD-WEN Field in Portland, the Breakers got a pair of goals from Sydney Leroux, her league-leading ninth and 10th of the season to improve to 5-5-4 and put pressure on fourth-place Western New York for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Breakers pulled within three points of Western New York (6-3-4), which plays FC Kansas City Sunday.
The Breakers put the pressure on Portland from the opening whistle, and just 11 minutes into the game, Leroux put her team on top. Taking a pass from Heather O’Reilly, Leroux found some space at the top of the box before rocketing a shot past Portland keeper Karina LeBlanc. It was the third straight game that Leroux has scored and her fifth goal in three games. For O’Reilly, it was her second straight game with an assist, both going to Leroux.
With a 1-0 advantage, the Breakers nearly doubled their lead in the 37th minute when Lianne Sanderson hit a free kick from the right of LeBlanc. She nearly caught the Canadian keeper off guard. LeBlanc came out to knock out a potential cross, but Sanderson’s kick curled toward goal. LeBlanc managed to regain her footing and make the save.
It didn’t take long after that for the Breakers to add to their lead. Leroux scored in the 38th minute, going one-on-one with Portland defender Kat Williamson, racing past the outside back at the top of the box before slotting it far post to beat a diving LeBlanc and giving Boston a 2-0 lead, one that held for the rest of the match.
In the second half, Breakers keeper Alyssa Naeher came up big time and time again. She stopped a dangerous shot on goal by Christine Sinclair in the 60th minute and then cut down a pass from Angie Kerr intended for Sinclair just inside the box in the 66th minute. Portland continued to threaten, but Naeher didn’t budge, stopping a pair of shots by Tiffany Weimer, one in the 70th minute and the other in the 80th minute. Naeher later tipped a shot by Alex Morgan over the bar in the 83rd minute and three minutes later denied Morgan on a shot from point-blank range to secure her first-ever shutout in the National Women’s Soccer League and Boston’s second shutout this season. Portland has now been held scorless in four straight games and is on a three-game winless streak.
The Breakers head to New Jersey July 13 to take on Sky Blue FC before coming back to Boston July 21 to host Portland.