The slump ends for Portland, the misery continues for Boston
Brynjarsdottir goal in the 79th minute was the main highlight in this physical matchup. Her goal ended the Thorns four-game losing streak in the state of Massachusetts. Their last victory came in 2013 when the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) began.
For the Breakers their frustrating season continued with the header from Brynjarsdottir, and the four saves from Portland’s goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. After this result Boston remains in the basement of the standings in 10th place. They are still the only club left in the league that has yet to pick up a point or score a goal in three matches.
The second half is when both clubs began to pick up their efforts
In the first 45 minutes of the match, the two clubs combined for six shots and only one of them were on target. The first half did produce a combination of 15 fouls. However, the tempo of the match drastically changed in the second half.
Boston was playing like a club determined to score and potentially pick up their first points of the season. The final 45 minutes saw a combined 17 shots; nine of them were from the Breakers. In the first half the home club did not register a shot on target, after the break their efforts forced Franch to make four saves.
However, the Thorns were not backing down as they created eight shots and placed four of them on target as well in the second half. Breakers’ goalkeeper Abby Smith stepped up to the plate and made four saves in her first start for the club.
Who will step up for the Breakers?
Boston’s effort in the second half was commendable but nothing came for it. The reason for that is because their star players once again did not perform when it matters. U.S. international forward Stephanie McCaffrey at moments showed why she is a part of the national team set up.
However, the defense of Portland did its job and frustrated the Massachusetts native. McCaffrey was not able to finish the game and was subbed out in the 83rd minute when her team needed a goal. The 22-year-old striker was not injured, she was just exhausted since the Thorns made her work for everything in the match.
The only player for the Breakers that was a consistent threat was veteran midfielder McCall Zerboni. The five-foot-four-inches midfielder made countless runs at the defense. Portland struggled at times to slow down the California native, in result she was fouled three times. She stretched the defense and opened up the field with her passing. The crafty midfielder also managed to get off three shots in the match.
However, in the end nobody was able to convert one of the 11 total chances the home side created.
In Heath the Thorns trust
The Breakers entered this match knowing that they had to slow down both U.S. international midfielders Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan.
Boston was able to frustrate and contain Horan. The creative 21-year-old was only able to get off one shot in the match. However, she did commit three fouls and was called off sides twice.
As for Heath, the Breakers were not able to stop her. The Olympic and World Cup champion was a pest running up and down the field. Heath constantly broke through the defense with her dribbling ability or with a pass.
Boston attempted to slow her down with a physical approach, Heath responded by placing all three of her shots on target.
The 27-year-old midfielder did not score the winning goal on Sunday. Instead she set it up, by sending a killer ball from a set piece right on the edge of the penalty box. Heath perfectly placed the ball to the head of Brynjarsdottir, who had just completed her run to the front of the net. Brynjarsdottir simply had to redirect the pass to the bottom left hand corner to secure the 1-0 victory for the Thorns.
Heath entered this match as the league leader in assists with three in two games. Now she leaves Beantown with four assists in three games and is still number one in that department.
Portland keeps pace with first
With this result the Thorns stay in second place with seven points and a positive two goal differential. They only trail first place Washington Spirit by two points. The Spirit (3-0-0) is the only club left with a perfect record after three games. They have only conceded one goal and have scored six themselves.
However, the Thorns can pass Washington in the standings if they are able to get a victory in D.C. on Saturday. U.S. international Crystal Dunn and the rest of Spirit’s will host Portland at the Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex.
May is off to a bad start for Boston
Breakers’ head coach Matt Beard will have to search for the positives in this painful narrow home defeat, and then move on. The one good thing for Boston is that their next match will be at home again. The bad part is they will be hosting USWNT’s striker Christen Press and the Chicago Red Stars at Jordan Field on Saturday.