In Week 5 of NWSL action, the Chicago Red Stars will face the Boston Breakers in a Mother’s Day match-up. Both teams are entering the week with 2 wins and 2 losses. After victories over the Houston Dash and FC Kansas City, Chicago is looking to remain undefeated at Toyota Park, and start a consecutive win streak of their own. However, the Boston of now is not the Boston of old, and Chicago knows not to take any match lightly.
In post-game comments after facing the Houston Dash, Chicago head coach Rory Dames stated, “Boston is off to a great start, they’re a completely different team. We’ll take a look at what they do and follow up.”
Where we last saw them
Last season the Red Stars met Boston for two matches and swept the season series with two wins for 2016. Their last match up took place in Toyota Park where the Red Stars played hosts to a convincing 3-0 win. Sofia Huerta collected a brace, while Casey Short also found the back of the net for Chicago. It was an entertaining match, that could’ve had more goals, and was complete with four yellow cards. While it’s easy to get caught up in the highlights, this is not the same Boston team of 2016.
The state of Massachusetts
Out of the 18 Boston players that last visited Chicago, only four are returning. Boston has a completely different squad, and has already showed signs of promise with two early season wins against Sky Blue FC and Seattle Reign. Despite the new faces of Rose Lavelle, Midge Purce, and Morgan Andrews, there is still a sense of familiarity between the two teams with a long history that dates as far back as their WPS days.
Two players have swapped sides after mid-season and offseason trades with Stephanie McCaffrey and Amanda DaCosta playing on opposing teams now. Red Stars keeper Alyssa Naeher was drafted by the Boston Breakers in the WPS in 2010. The last time Chicago used more than one international spot on their team, it was filled by Canadian Adrianna Leon who is now building chemistry with the Breakers.
The all-time match up favors Chicago, especially at home, and the Red Stars will want to add to their 8-win record against Boston.
Starting lineup we’d like to see
Keys to the Match
New kids on the Block
Along with new draftees like Lavelle, Purce, and Andrews, the Red Stars will have to face new non-rookies in players like Natasha Dowie and Abby Smith. Dowie was a mid-season acquisition for Boston last year. Smith was out for the season with a knee injury the last time Boston faced Chicago. Both have returned for 2017 and are having impressive starts at their positions as Forward and Goal Keeper. Dowie already has 2 goals on the season, and both Lavelle and Leon have tallied goals for Boston as well.
Julie Ertz has been the one scoring goals for Chicago, with two on the season, and Boston’s Leon and Dowie will be a test for the Red Stars. However, there is a strong possibility that this game could come down to a goal keeping battle. Both Naeher and Smith are providing their backline with the confidence of a stable presence in net. Watch out for highlights from either these net minders.
Defense is the new offense?
Chicago is no stranger to being a defensive minded team. With Ertz playing higher role in the midfield, the backline has shown their fluidity in their ability to adapt to both each other and the opposition they face on the pitch. With the forward core still searching for a breakthrough in goals, the defense can do their part by disrupting Boston’s attack.
How To Watch
Kickoff: Sunday May 14th, 5:00pm Central
Will someone other than Julie Ertz score for the Red Stars? Please? Have you gone to a game yet? Why not? Do you hate fun? Explain in the comments below!