Boston Breakers (1-0-1) v. Chicago Red Stars (0-1-1)
Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 6:00 EDT/3:00 PDT
Dilboy Stadium, Somerville, M.A.
Watch match online ($4.99 fee)
Twitter – @BostonBreakers @ChicagoRedStars
The Chicago Red Stars will hope to earn their first win of the season when they travel to Dilboy Stadium to face the undefeated Boston Breakers. While this will be the first time the two clubs meet this season, the Red Stars and Breakers have a storied history.
The two clubs have a rivalry that dates back to 2009 with their most recent meeting being a 2012 semifinals match in the Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite. Despite entering the game as the favorites, the top-seeded Breakers found themselves in trouble early on when Courtney Jones, a key defender, went down with an injury in the 13th minute and the Red Stars scored in the 14th minute. Chicago would go on to score two more goals before the Breakers found the back of the net in the game’s final moments. The final result was a 3-1 victory for the Red Stars which sent the Breakers out of the playoffs.
The two teams will have a different look this year with the Breakers only returning four and the Red Stars recalling seven. Regardless, the game will serve as another chapter in the long history between the two clubs with neither wanting to give up points.
If the Breakers hope to remain undefeated, they will need Sydney Leroux and Heather O’Reilly to maintain form. Leroux helped the Breakers salvage a tie against the Washington Spirit in their season opener when she scored in the 91st minute. Two weeks later, Leroux played provider when she aided in O’Reilly’s first goal. A prime opportunity in the 83rd minute allowed O’Reilly to complete her brace against the New York Flash and earn the team three points. The tireless work of Leroux and O’Reilly will help keep the Breakers in every game this season, including Saturday’s match against the Red Stars.
“O’Reilly and LeRoux are both very dangerous up front, and they have 2 very experienced center backs, especially in their captain, Kia McNeill.,” said Chicago Red Stars head coach Rory Dames. “We’ll have to play better than we did against Portland to get anything out of this game.”
While the attack certainly offers confidence, the Breakers have had some shaky moments defensively. Through two games, Boston has only led their opponents for a collective seven minutes. In both games this season, the Breakers have had to fight to earn a result after letting up an early goal. In the season opener, Tiffany McCarty was able to score for the Spirit in the 15th minute on an uncontested header. Two weeks later, the Flash’s Laura Heyboer forced a turnover from Rhian Wilkinson to help Samantha Kerr score in the 7th minute. These shaky moments, along with others, have created question marks in the lineup, including the position of goalkeeper.
The Red Stars will look to capitalize on the Breakers’ uncertainty with the help of Lori Chalupny and Leslie Osborne. Chalupny has the team’s only goal this season after scoring off an Ella Masar feed against Seattle Reign FC in the season opener. The midfielder brings fierceness to the squad as she currently leads the team with six shots on goal. Osborne will play alongside Chalupny which will help bring toughness to the lineup. Osborne played with the Breakers from 2010 to 2012 and this will be her first trip back to Massachusetts since leaving the club.
Chalupny and Osborne will be joined by many talented players, including forward Masar and goalkeeper Erin McLeod. One player that the Red Stars will be missing is midfielder Shannon Boxx who recently announced she will be out 4-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Boxx only played 45 minutes this season but would certainly be a pivotal player if available to play. While the loss of Boxx will be upsetting to the club, it could also serve as a motivator for a team looking to rise in the standings.
After an intense but balanced rivalry between Boston and Chicago in the WPS and the WPSL, fans should be eager to see what the NWSL installment brings on Saturday night.