Lauletta: Thoughts on Breakers-Courage

Dan Lauletta May 7, 2017 32
The Courage celebrate the only goal of Sunday's top-of-the-table clash in Boston (photo copyright Linehan Photography for The Equalizer

The Courage celebrate the only goal of Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash in Boston (photo copyright Linehan Photography for The Equalizer

The Breakers and Courage battled in a top-of-the-table clash at Jordan Field on Sunday. It was an entertaining contest that saw the Courage sneak the only goal to remain perfect through four matches. That’s more than we can say for the go90 streams. Here are some thoughts:

Jess McDonald needs to get her due

The lone goal in the match was scored by Jessica McDonald and it made her the all-time leading goal scorer in the history of the league. Granted it’s not an incredibly long history and none of the four Golden Boot winners has spent more than three seasons in the league. But scoring goals in any league is no easy feat and it is a testament to McDonald’s consistency that she has been able to bag 33 of them—none of which have been penalty kicks.

Part of the reason McDonald gets overlooked when discussing NWSL’s goal scorers is because she winds up in a different city every year. Originally a Chicago Red Star, she was waived midway through 2013 and picked up by the Reign. She then spent 2014 in Portland and 2015 in Houston—never missing a game either season—before being traded to the Flash for 2016. This year, McDonald stayed with the same team for the first time in NWSL, but she still had to move after the Flash became the Courage and moved to North Carolina.

North Carolina may be the place McDonald finally fortifies a reputation. Her workrate is off the charts and her relationship with strike partner Lynn Williams is something to behold. Throw in Debinha, who had her quietest night of the season including a weak finish after a great setup from Williams, and McDonald is poised to continue getting better.

Angela Salem is making a difference

Quick, who is the only NWSL player who went to Francis Marion University? You guessed it, it’s Angela Salem. And at 28, in her second season in Boston, Salem is making a difference in the Breakers’ midfield. Salem’s defensive presence in midfield was a vital part of the 2013 Flash team that won the Shield and she is back to playing with a similar bite and effectiveness. Rookie midfielder Rose Lavelle was named April’s Player of the Month, helped immensely by Salem’s ability to hold down the fort behind her.

The pieces around Salem this season have no doubt helped her game. Last season, Matt Beard and Salem’s first in Boston, the back line could barely play the ball into the midfield and the club was constantly in retreat mode. That did not allow Salem the full freedom to be her most effective self. The additions of Megan Oyster and Allysha Chapman have helped give the defense some respectability and Salem is back to doing what she does best—thwarting opposition attack sequences and moving the ball ahead to Lavelle to organize the attack.

Speaking of Lavelle she turned in another solid effort on Sunday and often got the better or North Carolina midfielder Samantha Mewis. Lavelle’s USWNT teammate, Mewis likes to dictate from a deep midfield role but Lavelle made that an extremely difficult task in this one.

Make no mistake about the Breakers—they are still very much a work in progress. But with Lavelle in control of the center of the midfield and Salem cleaning things up behind her, the framework of a strong side is in place.

This one was difficult to follow

Four weeks into the new season and the quality, accessibility, and overall satisfaction of the league’s new streaming deal remains near the top of every NWSL discussion. Breakers-Courage, a match that should have been on pretty much everyone’s must-watch list, was no exception. And the truth is the action was extremely difficult to follow at times.

The main issue was how often the main camera lost contact with the ball. Jordan Field is difficult for streaming because the camera has to be positioned too close to the field to see the near corners. But Sunday night, empty swaths of pitch spent far too much time on computer screens around the world while the play was—obviously—elsewhere. Other times the camera remained on the player who had passed the ball leaving the viewer in the dark about what happened and why. Things did get a little bit better in the 2nd half but it was still hardly good enough.

Jordan Field has another disadvantage, that being the sun which at certain times of day throws an unbearable glare on the far left corner of the field. At some point NWSL will get big enough that such factors will be a part of stadium and start time selection, but that is down the road. For now, teams have to play where they can find a field willing and able to house their matches.

Other factors cannot be overlooked. Between games jumping to commercial, to simultaneous streams being reversed and the fixed at the expense of seeing Rose Lavelle’s first NWSL goal, and now shoddy camera work, fans are near the point of boiling over. The new media deal was supposed to help grow NWSL’s fan base—which the Lifetime facet is surely doing—but at the moment the streaming element it is doing a better job of testing the existing base than adding to it.

  • guest

    “none of the four Golden Boot winners has spent more than three seasons in the league” there’s the bigger story tbh

    also y’all do realize neither go90 nor lifetime handle the stream production? it’s all vista worldlink doing switching and graphics from florida, and in most cases the same camera operators from last year using slightly better equipment? why don’t you ever say that? dan that’s literally the only inside thing you actually know about anymore

    • oz

      Good to know. Vista Worldlink does a crap job

    • mockmook

      Well, ultimately, Lifetime is the one responsible for the broadcasts (with the possible exception of the NWSL giving them terrible start times for the Boston games).

    • Silver Frost

      Utlimately its NWSL’s fault if anything goes wrong, but I watched two games yesterday on a PC and had no problems. Not even one freeze up. Halftimes are a little weird with nothing going on, but I can live with that.

      • If you tried to watch the Boston game screen froze every 8 seconds (for at least a second) for the first half with few exceptions. Also, the sound was Not in sync with the stream. Unwatchable so I changed to VPN .

        Now on VPN, i was able to watch on nwslsoccer.com the stream was smooth, clear and in sync. For the life of me I can’t see why All streams aren’t on nwsl for everyone to watch. Neither can I understand why there are not any controls to be able to Pause, Stop or rewind the on demand videos on either site. Any ideas there?

        Obviously the games can be streamed on nwsl so why not dump the go90 app and its restraints and set us free to watch without an app or go90 site at all.

        On go90 and nwsl platforms you can Cast to TVs like you can on YT and many other situations. Why is it set up that you need to buy a Cast device? I got the Chromecast and it still didn’t work, I use Chrome and it has cast ability (well, at least partially) but not for te soccer.

        On NWSLsocdcer, you can watch the highlights but the full games (after the fact) are nowhere to be found. What’s with that? If it is money, I say not worth it, dump go90 would be a good start and stream for ALL at NWSL platform

    • Steglitz49

      The NWSL is only starting its 5th season. It is not as old as Damallsvenskan.

  • DNG

    I didn’t think Lavelle was that good in this match. She was okay but not really as impactful as some of the other Breakers players. As for the match itself it was a lot of long balls by both teams and not really that great to watch but credit to the Breakers for making things a little tougher for NC this week.

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    • #1Fan

      Couple of questions

      1. Why does the leagues leading scorer have so many teams on her resume
      2. What makes her the leading goalscorer

      Ty

      • DNG

        Leading goal scorer as in league all time? Killion(1 RoP and 2 PKs) is actually the leading scorer this year

        Assuming you’re talking about Mcdonald, 2013 was not a good year for her. She had 0 goals for Chicago in 9 appearances before being waived and picked up by Seattle where she scored 3 in 7. The next season she was traded to Portland and had a good year scoring 11 in 24 but Portland at that point were hoping to start Sinclair and Morgan the following year. I believe traded her because she wanted to start somewhere and she landed with the Dash. She scored 7 in 20 with the Dash in 2015 but was ultimately moved because Waldrum wanted to go in a different direction(speed up front with Daly and Ohai plus Lloyd). Now she’s with the Courage.

        As to what makes her a pretty goal goal scorer now. She seems to have a knack for getting on the end of chances right around the 6 yard box. The reason she’s the Leagues leading scorer is because she’s played more games than Little and Press who both score at a higher rate than her. Press currently has 25 in 43 I think

        Edit: I should probably note that Little had a bunch of goals from PKs quite a few of which she earned.

        • #1Fan

          why do teams pass on her if she scores goals ?

          • DNG

            No clue regarding Houston who desperately need a CF in my opinion. Houston never should have traded for Lloyd either though so I don’t know exactly what’s going on there. Portland are attached to Sinclair until she decides to retire, at the time had Morgan and were about to pick up Jodie Taylor the season Mcdonald was traded. Riley was an idiot to trade her during the WC year though where all three of his CFs were gone for 10 matches and they missed the playoffs. Not sure why Seattle traded Mcdonald but I think they acquired Leroux during that offseason she was traded to the Thorns.

          • Jarrett Campbell

            If you want to hear McDonald’s take in her own words on why she has moved so much, listen to this great podcast by Neil Morris http://www.wralsportsfan.com/soccer/audio/16669429/

        • Breakers fan

          Would be interesting to know how many of her goals came from her height – i.e. headers near goal? My impression is that very few have, however.

          • DNG

            I’d be lying if I claimed to have any idea of that answer. I haven’t paid close enough attention to know. You could definitely be right though.

          • Breakers fan

            I don’t know either and I think you’d know the answer better, having watched more Thorns games than I (when she played there), but I can’t see in the memory of my mind’s eyes really any goals she scored near goal outjumping defenders to knock in header goals, so I think she’s scored largely from other means. It’s mysterious to me also what her knack for scoring is, what qualities she has that has led to that happening.

          • DNG

            Pretty good poachers instinct by my observation and good physicality in the box.

          • Breakers fan

            Sounds right. Would be interesting to look back at clips of her NWSL goals. I may try to do that someday, if they exist in short form.

        • Steglitz49

          As long as commentators on the EQ follow the time-honored soccer conventions they will not go wrong.

          It is traditional in soccer to write goals scored as X(Y) where X is the total and the Y inside brackets are the ones from PKs.

          Thus two players on 21 goals may be recorded as 21(2) and 21(9) and in that case the one with the least from PKs is ranked higher.

          • I kinda thought Amy Rodriguez was robbed of the Golden Boot the first year. All of her goals were from the run of play, and nearly half of Little’s goals were from PKs.

          • Steglitz49

            ARod has had a blessed life in WoSo till her unfortunate ACL-tear. Maybe she and Zlatan can form a club?

            ARod not only has plenty of NT honors, including a WC winners medal, her record in the NWSL and for KC in particular is outstanding. She also managed to reproduce herself twice during all this.

            Maybe ARod came back too soon after giving birth? We shall never know. I suspect she values her two wins for KC higher than becoming Goalscoring Queen for a season, not least when she bested Kim Little when it mattered.

        • sowerofpower

          This recent podcast of Mcdonald with Neil Morris is pretty good: http://www.wralsportsfan.com/soccer/audio/16669429/
          – Mcdonald’s interview starts at 25 min+.

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  • Ashley C

    -You could see NC repeating. They’re very organized defensively and seem more than happy to invite pressure at times. They’re also smart in possession and are good at taking chances on the counter when they can. They’re a hard-working team that’s difficult to break down. I don’t think Boston played bad but NC took their chance.

    -The match was almost unwatchable at times because of the camera work. The glare was blinding on my tv and yes – not even knowing where the ball/play was half the time was awuf. Hopefully they can sort out a better plan at Jordan Field.

    • Steglitz49

      Just write them a check and they will improve the camera angles. This is DJT’s America: no more freebies and certainly not for communist sports like soccer, let alone women’s soccer.

    • #1Fan

      You raise great points about counter vs possession. The world is wrestling with this one.

      • Steglitz49

        Like on the Glorious 12th in Brasilia?

  • Steglitz49

    There is still time to get your tickets for the FA women’s Cup final at Wembley. Remember: kids go free!

    This year’s Final looks likely to be amazing. The FA is urging anyone without plans for May 13th to book tickets in advance and be part of history.

    Manchester City, with Carli and overflowing with England and Swedish internationals, are the current FAWSL1 champions and FAWSL Continental Tyres (Conti) Cup holders, but has never before reached the FA Cup Final.

    Birmingham also have internationals such as Ada Hegerberg’s sister Andrine and their German goalie and will call on the spirit 2012 when they lifted the FA Cup after beating Chelsea Ladies on penalties, following a thrilling 2-2 draw AET.

  • Raphi Arviso

    Go90 needs to go. At least with YouTube I could watch the match I missed. Still can’t watch Seattle game. Tried 3 different devices, wifi and using my data plan and still if it comes up it is garbage. Pausing and then picking up after a few minutes of play. Finally gave up and watched highlights on YouTube.

    • mockmook

      Wait a few days and it will be hosted on the NWSL site.

      BTW did u give up on the NFL for not having their games available for free any time u wanted them?

      • Steglitz49

        Probably confuses football with soccer soccer as in the FA.

      • Raphi Arviso

        NFL? Why would I watch that. I like a fast paced game. And I would happily deal with Comercial in play back to support the games. I wish they would add them to YouTube with commercials added in where one could pause a game after it is played. Such as a corner or a goal kick that drags out. Putting commercials in after a game for playback would be a great way to support NWSL.