Breakers return to home action Thursday vs. Chicago

First of double-header against Red Stars

May 14, 2014 - The Boston Breakers are back at Harvard Stadium this Thursday (kickoff at 7 p.m. ET) for the first of five consecutive National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) home games. It is also the first of two clashes with the Chicago Red Stars in four days as the Breakers take on their old Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) rivals.

May 14, 2014The Boston Breakers are back at Harvard Stadium this Thursday (kickoff at 7 p.m. ET) for the first of five consecutive National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) home games. It is also the first of two clashes with the Chicago Red Stars in four days as the Breakers take on their old Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) rivals.

As the longest-running women’s soccer series in franchise history resumes, Boston is looking to use home advantage as the springboard to a second win of the season. The Breakers go into the game with a record of 1-3-0 in 2014, and it is an opportunity to bounce back from the 1-0 defeat at Sky Blue FC last time out.

Joanna Lohman and the Breakers look to rebound from a recent loss to Sky Blue FC (photo by Mike Gridley)

Their opponents, the Chicago Red Stars, are 2-2-1 following a 1-0 win at home to Houston Dash on Sunday. Rory Dames’ team secured the three points after a three-hour storm delay at the Village of Lisle - Benedictine University Sports Complex. The decisive goal came via forward Jen Hoy as she seized upon a cross from rookie midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo.

BOSTON VS. CHICAGO GAME NOTES

The Red Stars have been involved in decidedly low-scoring games so far this season, and neither they nor the opposition have scored more than once in those encounters. Of Chicago’s three goals, DiBernardo has supplied two, with her other assist coming off a corner for defender Julie Johnston, which she headed home in the 1-0 opening victory over the Western New York Flash.

With 1-0 losses to both the Washington Spirit and FC Kansas City, the Red Stars gained their solitary draw to date with a 1-1 result at Sky Blue FC. Twenty-one-year-old forward Hayley Brock got the goal, and as much as the Red Stars have yet to hit their stride in an attacking sense, they have been relatively strong at the back. Canadian international keeper Karina LeBlanc, a Boston Breaker back in the Women’s United Soccer Association, has two shutouts from her four appearances.

Midfield duo Lori Chalupny and Julianne Sitch both had four NWSL assists last year and the Breakers will also have to contend with Canada’s Melissa Tancredi up front. The experienced striker made her first appearance in the NWSL as a substitute against Houston last weekend and offered signs of a potential link-up with Jen Hoy.

Chicago is set to be without U.S. Women’s National Team forward Christen Press as 2013’s 23-goal Damallsvenskan top scorer is completing her Champions League season with finalists Tyresö FF. Australia co-captain and 20-year-old midfielder Emily van Egmond has joined already this month, and so too has New Zealand defender Abby Erceg from USV Jena in Germany.

For the first time this season, Boston has the option of Hanson, Mass. native and U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Kristie Mewis. The 23-year-old has been sidelined with an ankle injury, but she comes into contention for Breakers Head Coach Tom Durkin. Midfielder Nikki Washington could also feature following her trade from the Houston Dash. There are no injury concerns for the Breakers, but forward Lisa De Vanna is away with Australia as they defend the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. She will serve a one-game ban on her return to the NWSL after her late red card against Sky Blue FC.

Midfielder Lianne Sanderson is back in Boston after playing 62 minutes for England in their 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Ukraine last Thursday. Also in international action was midfielder Heather O’Reilly, who played the entirety of the 1-1 draw for the U.S. against Canada in Winnipeg. The Breakers are searching for their first shutout of the season, although Alyssa Naeher continued her noteworthy form with four saves in the defeat at Sky Blue FC.

Thursday’s game at Harvard will be the first of four in succession on the road for Chicago. A second meeting with the Breakers will follow this Sunday (May 18) before the Red Stars travel to Houston and Sky Blue FC. Besides LeBlanc, Rory Dames could give forward Adriana Leon an opportunity against their former club in Boston. The Canadian international scored once in six games (one start) for the Breakers last season. Former Breaker Taryn Hemmings represented the team in WPS and WPSL Elite, but she is sidelined for Chicago, recovering from ACL tear she suffered last season with the Red Stars.

You can follow the action from Harvard Stadium between the Breakers and the Chicago Red Stars live on YouTube (7 p.m. ET start) this Thursday. Tickets can also be purchased for the next home game with the Red Stars on Sunday, May 18 (kickoff 6:30 p.m. ET) from www.breakerstickets.com or by calling 617-945-1704.

- By Chris Brookes

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