At the end of last season, Sky Blue FC and the Boston Breakers were separated by 14 points. Six weeks into the 2015 season, the two teams have a point separating them.
Sky Blue, six games into the season, sits in eighth place with five points and one win- a far cry from the squad that finished 2014 with a five-game winning streak.
The Breakers have earned six of a possible 15 points and snapped a two-game losing streak last week, beating the Portland Thorns 1-0. The Breakers have lost all three of their road games, conceding ten goals in that span. Even worse, they’ve been outshot 54-26 away from Harvard Stadium.
At home things are much different, as they have won two straight, scoring a combined four goals and conceding two. Last week the team had their first shutout- against the Thorns, the team that beat them 4-1 in their season opener.
Thankfully for the Breakers, they’ll be at home this weekend. These points are critical for the Breakers since eight of their first 12 games are at home. After July 15 the team has two home games. For a squad with two World Cup related absences, the Breakers will need to use this game against eighth-place Sky Blue to earn points early in the season.
After Sunday’s win, Breakers head coach Tom Durkin mentioned the importance of these early games.
“These games are important to us because it’s really a chance for our team to grow and play together while other teams aren’t at full strength, which is going to give us confidence.” Durkin also acknowledged that his team was “highly motivated” to play at home.
Going into this week’s match, the Breakers coach also acknowledged that Sky Blue will have drive as well.
“I think they’re going to be highly motivated to try to come here and get a result. I don’t think you can take them lightly in any way, shape, or form. Our aim is to build on our last performance.” Durkin said.
Sky Blue started off the season strong, beating the defending champions in their own city. Since then, they have earned two points in five matches. At Washington this past week, they were the better team, recording 21 shots, with nine on frame. Sky Blue switched to a more direct style, which was effective in getting the ball to striker Nadia Nadim. Yet, the New Jersey squad fell 1-0 as a result of a stoppage time goal.
After the loss, Sky Blue coach Jim Gabarra praised the team’s performance.
“That was the best we have played all year, and the most chances that we have created all year.”
Both the Breakers and Sky Blue heavily rely on two players to create offensive opportunities. Most balls through the Breakers midfield come through the left side with Kristie Mewis before finding forward Stephanie McCaffrey. McCaffrey, a rookie, has been involved with half of the team’s goals. The Boston College product is credited with two of the team’s three assists.
For Sky Blue, Katy Freels and Nadia Nadim have scored the team’s four goals this season. Nadim has been involved in every goal the team has scored this season. Against Washington last week, Nadim recorded a third of the team’s shots and shots on goal.
The two teams will each need to involve their key players in this critical game for both teams.
The Breakers will retire Leslie Osbourne’s number with a halftime ceremony honoring the former Breakers and USWNT player.