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Boston Breakers

NWSL Mid-Week 13 Preview: Reign v. Flash, Part III

Boston Breakers (3-10-1) at Washington Spirit (7-7-1)
Maryland SoccerPlex
Wednesday, 7 pm EDT
Series:  Breakers lead, 3-1-2 (1-1-0 in 2014)

The Spirit are in 3rd place but give games in hand to the three teams who all sit two points behind.  And they appear to have emerged from their mid-season slump in time to remain in the thick of the playoff race.  This would be a good time to prove their mettle by putting down a last-place side in the midst of a brutal stretch of away matches.  The Breakers are definitely better than they were earlier in the season and are clearly still fighting for it.  Julie King won’t play leaving a hole in the middle of their defense.

What to watch for:  The Spirit are not only emerging from a slump they are starting to get new and better players in.  With Crystal Dunn back from injury and Kerstin Garefrekes on loan from Frankfurt the Spirit suddenly possess a slew of outstanding flank players who can do different things.  That should allow Christine Nairn and the other central players to spread the ball around the keep the Breakers off balance.  With steamy conditions anticipated the team with the most possession will have a decided advantage.

Seattle Reign FC (11-0-3) at Western New York Flash (6-7-2)
Sahlen’s Stadium
Wednesday, 7 pm EDT
Series:  Reign lead, 2-1-2 (1-0-1 in 2014)

The Reign will be trying to become the first team ever in women’s professional soccer to play 15 consecutive regular season matches without losing.  They’ll be doing it against the side that has had them on the ropes twice.  A stoppage time goal saved a draw in Seattle and a pair of late ones turned defeat into victory 10 days ago in Rochester.  While the Reign try to make history the Flash are trying to return to .500 and firm up their position in the playoff race.  Many questions abound as to who will play in the game from Hope Solo—who was apparently benched against Sky Blue on the weekend—to the injured Megan Rapinoe.  Abby Wambach though, has been ruled out.

What to watch for:  So much will depend on who plays in the game.  If Rapinoe returns it gives the Reign an additional presence on the flank that Flash defenders will be hard pressed to deal with.  If Wambach plays it will put much pressure on the Reign back four and make it easier for the Flash to go direct and bypass the midfield battle they are not likely to win.

Houston Dash (4-9-1) at Sky Blue FC (3-6-7)
Yurcak Field
Wednesday, 7 pm EDT
Series:  Dash lead, 1-0-0

The first time they met the Dash put a beat down on Sky Blue in what remains their only clean sheet of the season.  Sky Blue is back home riding a four-match unbeaten streak that includes a four-point trip to the Pacific Northwest.  Last time they secured a strong result in Portland they came home and dropped nine straight points at home concluding with the 3-0 loss to the Dash.  They’ll be looking for some momentum this time.  The Dash are still looking to debut Meghan Klingenberg who first had to wait for her ITC to clear and sat out the weekend injured.

What to watch for:  Style wise this matchup is a nightmare for Sky Blue.  But Sophie Schmidt has been playing well at holding defensive midfielder and she could be the key to breaking the Dash’s pressure and keeping things moving in the right direction for Sky Blue.


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