Earlier this week the Chicago Red Stars received bad news. Midfielder Shannon Boxx had undergone minor knee surgery and as a result will be sidelined for four to six weeks. Chicago has played two matches thus far and Boxx had been instrumental in both for setting up counter attacks down the center, connecting with Alyssa Mautz or Lori Chalupny. The absence of Boxx from the squad will cause a deficiency in their offensive strength. However, they have a great substitute if head coach Rory Dames emplyos Julianne Sitch to replace Boxx for the time being.
However, most eyes will be fixated on the Boston Breakers following their triumphant 2-1 win over the Western New York Flash. Heather O'Reilly, Sydney Leroux and Kyah Simon will take command of the pitch in this match, as Chicago's Rachel Quon and Lydia Vandenbergh underwhelmed last week with their defensive performance.
A foreseeable and formidable obstacle for Boston is goalkeeper Erin McLeod. The Portland Thorns could have expanded their lead on at least three occasions last week but were denied further bragging rights as McLeod was there to shut down 25 yard strikes, six yard headers and crosses into the box by Alex Morgan.
Recently, the Boston Breakers acquired the WNYF defender Melinda Mercado. This may be an opportunity for Boston to strengthen their back line. However, if Boston does not take advantage of Mercado's skill, it will allow Chicago took occupy their territory. The Breakers defense is sloppy, and it showed last week when they played WNYF. Kia McNeill, Cat Whitehill and Rhian Wilkinson placed all their concentration on one player running up the center of the field (Laura Heyboer) but they neglected to mark the Flash's star striker Samantha Kerr. On another day, that could have cost them.
If Chicago can expose this weakness of the Boston back line, then they will wish be sure to see several opportunities in the box, and possibly find the back of the net. Leslie Osborne is a pivotal player that can charge up the center to open up opportunities for Mautz, Chalupny and Ella Masar. All in all, though, expect the Breakers to control this game.
Boston Breakers Injuries
OUT: Rhian Wilkinson (hamstring strain), Bianca D'Agostino (partially torn ACL), Maddy Evans (school commitments), Anisa Guajardo (school commitments), Jessica Luscinski (ankle), Casey Short (ACL)
Chicago Red Stars Injuries
OUT: Shannon Boxx (knee), Taryn Hemmings (hamstring strain), Amy LePeilbet (knee), Lindsay Tarpley (knee), Inka Grings (joining squad in May), Sonja Fuss (joining squad in May), Jen Hoy (joining squad in June)
Match Date/Time: Saturday May 4, 6:00 pm EDT
Venue: Dilboy Stadium, Somerville, MA
Online: Boston Breakers live stream - to be archived later on the Boston Breakers YouTube Channel