April 12, 2014 - After more than a month of preseason training and exhibition matches against some of the region's top colleges, the Boston Breakers are ready to put their work to the test Sunday night in Seattle. The Breakers and Seattle Reign FC open their National Women's Soccer League seasons at 7 p.m. ET on Moda Health Pitch at Memorial Stadium in Seattle. The match can be seen live on YouTube.
“The team is very excited to get the season underway. I imagine that as a season opener you couldn’t find a more challenging way to start the campaign. I assume that they will keep us very busy for the full 90 minutes, and it will be a very exciting match." Breakers Head Coach Tom Durkin said ahead of his NWSL coaching debut. "After what seems a very successful training camp, we are just about were we should be fitness wise, and having played some very good stuff in the last match versus UConn, the players are looking forward to testing themselves against one of the NWSL’s strongest rosters."
Seattle has a dangerous attack both up top and in the midfield, led by U.S. Women's National Team forward Sydney Leroux. The former Breaker led Boston with 11 goals in 2013. The Breakers also will have to contend with Wales international Jess Fishlock, U.S. Women's National Team midfielder Megan Rapinoe, and former Arsenal star Kim Little.
"Seattle certainly has a lot of firepower up front and a dynamic midfield," said Durkin, who also noted the strength of Seattle's goalkeeping. "Hope Solo is one of the all-time greats in goal."
The Breakers bring a loaded lineup to Seattle, led by a new-look forward line of U.S. Women's National Team star Heather O'Reilly, who scored five goals for Boston last season (tied for second on the team with midfielder Lianne Sanderson), newly added Australian striker Lisa De Vanna, who is coming off a six-goal season with Sky Blue FC and whose pace causes fits for the opposition, and rookie Mollie Pathman. The former Duke University standout and 2012 U-20 Women's World Cup champion with the U.S. had an extremely productive preseason, scoring two goals and notching three assists in four matches. Breakers veteran Katie Schoepfer, who was tied for most preseason goals (5) with teammate Maddy Evans, is another attacking option for Boston and may start Sunday against Seattle.
Heather O'Reilly scored five goals in 2013 for the Breakers (Photo By Mike Gridley)
The goals won't just come from the forwards. Boston's midfield includes Sanderson, who struck five goals last season and earned Team MVP honors. Sanderson is coming off a recent string of three goals with England, tallying two against Italy in the Cyprus Cup and one in last Saturday's 9-0 win over Montenegro, a World Cup qualifying match.
Lianne Sanderson in preseason action vs. Boston College (Photo By Mike Gridley)
Seattle will have its hands full with Boston's starting back four, outside backs and second-year Breakers Julie King and Jazmyne Avant, and center backs Cat Whitehill and Courtney Jones. The foursome is backed by keeper Alyssa Naeher, who recently returns after two weeks with the U.S. Women's National Team. Naeher played the second half of the season last year for the Breakers, earning two shutouts.
Following Sunday's match in Seattle, the Breakers return to Boston for their home opener - Sunday, April, 20 at 6:30 p.m. - against the Houston Dash. To order tickets, visit www.breakerstickets.com or call 617-945-1704.