The Western New York Flash will travel to Dilboy Stadium for the first time this season to face the Boston Breakers. Driven by a two-goal performance from Heather O’Reilly, the Breakers won the only previous meeting between the two clubs by score of 2-1. Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd, two players that missed the first encounter, are expected to be a part of the starting lineup on Wednesday which should help the Flash in their quest to level the series.
The Breakers are returning home after suffering their worst defeat of the year, a 5-1 result against Sky Blue FC. With Rhian Wilkinson, Sydney Leroux and O’Reilly on national team duty, the Breakers struggled to maintain possession and produce opportunities. The team’s only goal that night came from Adriana Leon who cleaned up a rebound created by Lianne Sanderson. In a microcosm of the game, Sanderson had her stoppage time penalty saved by backup keeper Ashley Baker.
The Breakers, who remain in third place despite the defeat, hope to get back to their winning ways with their internationals returning. Leroux is resuming play with the Breakers after scoring a goal for the US National Team and hopes to add to her four NWSL goals. Meanwhile, Wilkinson and O’Reilly have established themselves as important cogs in the Breakers system. Although it’s unknown what roles Leroux, Wilkinson and O’Reilly will play in Wednesday’s game, their presence will certainly help make the team stronger.
The status of goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher is more certain as she is awaiting league approval and receipt of her International Transfer Certificate to make her move from 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam official. Ashley Phillips and Cecilia Santiago have competed for the starting position all season long with neither providing complete confidence. Phillips has allowed eight goals in four appearances while Santiago has permitted three in three starts. Phillips is the incumbent but it should be noted that she was in net during the recent debacle.
The Flash should be prepared to face whatever lineup the Breakers utilize since they were off last weekend and are currently on a three-game winning streak. Wambach will certainly draw the attention of the Breakers’ defense as her four goals make her one of the best scorers in the NWSL. Samantha Kerr (2 goals), McCall Zerboni (1 goal) and Adriana Martin (1 goal) will also contribute to the attack. The Breakers will want to keep an eye on defender Brittany Taylor who provided two assists in the Flash’s recent 2-1 victory over the Chicago Red Stars.
Although impressive, the Flash’s recent run of form should be put into perspective as they have collected all of their victories at home. If they are going to earn their first road win, they will need a big performance from goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Franch has yet to earn a shutout but has collected 27 saves which is good for fourth place in the NWSL.
Wednesday’s match will be an interesting affair as Leroux and O’Reilly will now stand opposite of compatriots Wambach and Lloyd. The game will also have important implications to the NWSL rankings as the Flash would surpass the Breakers with a win.