Monday, July 26, 2010

Breakers Move into Playoff Position with Win in Chicago

The torrid Boston Breakers finally seem to be shedding the mediocrity and uncertainty that they showed in the early part of the WPS season. Boston won 3-1 on Sunday in Chicago by scoring three goals in the first 15 minutes of the match.

Kelly Smith had a brace before the Red Stars knew what hit them, and Ifeoma Dieke effectively ended Chicago's hopes with her first goal as a Breaker. The Red Stars saved some blushes with a strike in the 80th minute, but Boston took an important step toward a playoff spot with the victory.

The Breakers now sit alone in third place in the WPS table, having climbed from sixth in the span of just a few games. They still need to fend off at least two of Sky Blue FC, Philadelphia and Washington to solidify a post-season spot, so Saturday night's game at Harvard Stadium against the Freedom will be another massive contest.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Breakers v Gold Pride Match Report is up on Bleacher Report

Wednesday night's match was a game of missed chances for Boston and a venue for a wonder goal from the magnificent Marta. The Breakers played pretty well but did themselves no favors in the playoff race with a loss tonight. I'll break that down some other time. For now, the match report from the game is up at Bleacher Report. Enjoy.

As always, there's more on the Breakers at Boston Breakers Report

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Party's Over, But the Fun Is Just Beginning

The hospitable Garcia Brogan's in Lowell was home to the ONE Lowell World Cup draw party Sunday night. Twenty teams from five continents will compete for the coveted World Cup trophy on August 1, 7 and 8 at Cawley Stadium. Proceeds go to ONE Lowell, which does a lot of good work helping children of immigrants and refugees (among other folks) in Lowell.

As for the draw itself, it produced a fair amount of excitement and some pretty good match-ups. Check out the board:
That Group A is going to be a killer, given that the Brazilians won last year and the Somalis finished third. Mexico didn't field a team last year but will no doubt be strong, and England...well, the English will look dapper in their all-white kits. The most animated group by far at the party hailed from Togo, which also did not have a team last year. How good the Togolese will be, I don't know--but they should be fun to watch, in any case.

Thanks, by the way, to Lisa from the Examiner Web site for posting a great article about the tournament. Also, we managed to crack the Boston Globe and the Herald via the AP. Hooray! Roll on, August 1.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Breakers on Brink of Playoff Spot

Don't look now, but the once-forlorn Boston Breakers have won three matches in a row and are just one point away from a would-be playoff spot. Plus, they have a game in hand on the teams they're chasing for fourth place. Sounds pretty positive, right?

There's only one small problem. The Breakers play their next match against FC Gold Pride, the runaway leader in the WPS table and far and away the best side in the league thus far this season. That clash will happen Wednesday at 7 pm at Harvard Stadium and will be one of just three more games to take place at Harvard Stadium in the regular season. The Breakers will also play a "home" match in Connecticut in August.

In the meantime, though, the Breakers are on a roll. Boston snagged yet another come-from-behind win today over Washington, a key rival for the final WPS playoff spot. After conceding just two minutes into the match, the Breakers fought back to equalize through the suddenly potent Liz Bogus in the 23rd minute. In the 74th minute, Jordan Angeli, also in form for Boston, settled the matter with a headed goal past Washington goalkeeper Erin McLeod. Both Bogus and Angeli scored for the second consecutive match; Bogus has two goals this season and Angeli three.

It's that kind of balanced scoring that has taken the pressure off of Kelly Smith, Lauren Cheney and Fabiana and has made Boston a team with multiple threats to find the back of the net. After racking up just one goal in May and two in June, the Breakers have exploded for seven tallies in three matches--all wins--in July. Prior to Independence Day, the Breakers had scored just seven goals all season.

Boston's recent run of success has the club one win away from potentially leaping all the way into third place in the WPS table. The Breakers still sit in sixth, one point behind Washington and Chicago and two points behind Sky Blue FC, but they have a game in hand over all of the clubs that currently reside above them in the table. Chicago will travel to last-place Atlanta on Wednesday night, while Gold Pride will come to Boston.

Beating Gold Pride has been a tall order for the rest of WPS this season, due in large part to the amazing Marta's 10 goals in 14 games. With the Breakers on both a scoring streak and a winning streak, Wednesday night's game could turn into a real shootout. For Boston, a win would be critical--and would keep the momentum rolling as the summer stretches on and the playoffs approach.

As always, for more on the Breakers, check out Boston Breakers Report

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The ONE Lowell World Cup Is Back

The best "world cup" soccer tournament this side of South Africa returns to Lowell in just a few weeks. The ONE Lowell World Cup will take place over two weekends, on August 1, 7 and 8 at Cawley Stadium in Lowell.

If you're in the Boston area and you missed this event last year, do not miss it this year. There is some serious talent on display, and the whole weekend (or two weekends, in this case) just has a festive flavor to it. It's a great way to see superb soccer for very little money, and, of course, proceeds go to a great cause.

You can get a jump on the action by attending this Sunday evening's party for the ONE Lowell World Cup draw. It'll take place at 6pm at Garcia Brogan's Cantina, Pub & Restaurant in Lowell. The party is open to all, and Garcia Brogan's is apparently a Mexican-Irish, really, how could you go wrong? Just don't mix your tequila with your Guinness...

I hope to see you on Sunday and then again in August in Lowell.

Breakers Showing Signs of Life

Well, this is a nice change. With last Sunday's three-goal outburst in a win over Atlanta, the Breakers not only distanced themselves from last place, they actually pulled themselves up to within striking distance of the playoffs.

After a home loss to Chicago in late June, there were whispers--only whispers--among Breakers observers about changes in the organization. There was even talk, although never from anyone within the Breakers organization, that Tony DiCicco's future as coach might be in doubt.

Not anymore. DiCicco, arguably the most accomplished soccer coach in American history, has found a winning formula for a team that underachieved all season until the calendar turned to July. On Independence Day, the Breakers nabbed a crucial away win against a Philadelphia club that shares a name with the holiday.

Home success still eluded them, though, and after the first half against Atlanta at Harvard Stadium last Sunday, it looked as though it would again. The Beat led 1-0 at the break, and the more than 4000 Breakers fans who showed up right after the finish of the World Cup final had to wonder whether they would see their team win at home at all this season.

Then, everything changed. Boston exploded for three goals in five minutes in what might end up being its most important sequence of play all season. Jordan Angeli, Kelly Smith and Liz Bogus all netted between minutes 49 and 54 and effectively buried the Beat in a 3-1 Breakers win. For the marvelous Smith, the goal was her fourth of the season. Angeli scored her second. But Bogus, who opened her account with Sunday's goal, had struggled in recent games to even make the Breakers roster.

"It’s definitely been a hard month for me, but I believed in myself the whole time," Bogus said in a quote on the Breakers Web site. "I had friends and family that believed in me and I just fight. I fight every day to get back on the field in this position. Thankfully Tony [DiCicco] saw that hard work and gave me that second chance."

The whole team seems to have a second chance now. Once arguably the biggest underachievers in WPS, the Breakers have left worries of finishing in last place behind for the time being and are gunning for a top-four finish, which would earn them a playoff berth. The currently sit four points below the Washington Freedom in the WPS table, but they have a game in hand on Washington and two on fifth-place Chicago.

Suddenly, after two consecutive wins, a season that seemed to be slipping away now means something for the Breakers. The complex WPS playoff format strongly rewards the winner of the regular-season championship, and that honor is essentially out of reach for the Breakers. But a playoff berth would give new life to a team that has struggled for much of this season for reasons that nobody could quite understand.

There's work to be done, though, and it starts with a massive match on Sunday afternoon at Harvard Stadium against Washington. The game kicks off at 5pm and will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel. With a victory, the Breakers could put a serious scare into their opponents in the playoff chase. It's almost as if the season is beginning again and anything can happen. Finally, the Breakers are riding a wave of success. 

Note: Due to prior commitments, Steven and I both missed the July 11 game and will also miss the July 18 game, so we won't be providing a full match report on Sunday. We'll do our best to get to the home matches that take place after that. --Lee

For more on the Breakers, check out Boston Breakers Report

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Breakers Enjoy Independence Day, Beat Philly 2-1

Finally, the Breakers got their first win since opening day on Sunday, beating the Independence 2-1 in Philadelphia in a comeback victory. The scorer of the winning goal was none other than legend Kristine Lilly, who tallied in the 84th minute. Lauren Cheney got Boston's equalizer just after half time after former Breaker Amy Rodriguez had scored for Philly in the 19th minute.

The Breakers, if nothing else, guaranteed that they'll stay out of last place in the WPS table, at least for the time being. Atlanta has a game in hand but trails Boston by four points. With a big win on Sunday against the Beat, the Breakers could conceivably catch the Chicago Red Stars, who sit fifth in the table and lead Boston by three points. The Red Stars are two goals to the better in goal differential, though.

Boston will try to secure its first home win of the season on Sunday, July 11, at 6 pm at Harvard Stadium vs. Atlanta. Yes, that's right after the finish of the World Cup final. We do have to wonder who scheduled that one...

For more on the Breakers, check out Boston Breakers Report