2011 Breakers Preview (A Supporter’s View) Part 1
Well here we are again. First Kick 2011 for WPS is roughly a month away and again we see a season marked by expansion and subtraction. In addition we have the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany which is sure to be an amazing event that takes many of the league’s best players away from their club sides for a significant amount of time. Each fan group in the league, even the poor fans tied into Borislow’s mess in the Beltway/Everglades, is wondering two things as we near 2011 First Kick: How did the offseason affect my team’s on-field product and what will the 2011 World Cup mean to my team? The following preview focuses on the Breakers’ answers to these questions.
Offseason Losses: Kristine Lilly (retired), Allison Lipsher (Atlanta Beat), Laura del Rio (Philadelphia Independence), Lindsay Tarpley (Washington Freedom), Analisa Marquez (WNY Flash), Fabiana, Sarah Walsh, Chioma Igwe, Ashley Phillips, Jennifer Nobis (Pitea), Tiffany Weimer (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Let’s get the white elephant in the room out of the way right from the start. While the last two names on that list were released during the 2010 season, they most definitely would have been nice to have available during World Cup absences. End of biased view.
No one and I mean no one is going to be able to replace what Kristine Lilly meant to the Boston Breakers both on and off the field. On the field, she led the team like a 28 year-old veteran, not like someone nearing retirement. Off the field, she was the player the Boston media outlets knew of and would turn to for interviews. Replacing all that she was for the Breakers is not something that can be a achieved by one player.
Losing Lindsay Tarpley is something that is going to come back to hurt the team. Tarps was rounding into her best by the end of the season. She was clearly happy playing in the same side as Leslie Osborne and played well enough to be noticed by Pia Sundhage. Her skill on the ball was great to see and certainly helped turned the team’s 2010 fortunes around.
As for the other losses, Laura del Rio showed flashes last season, but aside from her golazo, her most memorable Breakers moment was walking out with the Spanish flag after they won the World Cup. Fabiana also showed promise during her two seasons with the club. However, her performances were typically just short of consistent. One also has to remember her youth and take it as a sign that she will improve as she matures. The departures of Ashley Phillips and Allison Lipsher mean that all three of the 2009 Breakers goalkeepers have left the club. From the looks of it Lipsher had a successful spell this winter with the Newcastle Jets of the Australian W-League so 2011 could be a bit of a rebound year for her.
Offseason Additions: Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Nikki Washington (Chicago Red Stars), Kelley O’Hara (FC Gold Pride), Pavalina Scasna (Malmo-SWE), Niki Cross (FC Gold Pride)
Adding Rachel Buehler to a backline that already featured Amy LePeilbet, Stephanie Cox, and Alex Scott only seems like cheating. But in all seriousness, the fearsome foursome won’t be together in Breaker blue all that much due to the World Cup. Having the Buehldozer will certainly benefit the team the most after the World Cup. Niki Cross is back again with her hometown team and should stick longer this time. The size of Kelley O’Hara‘s impact will depend on which of the young attackers for the USWNT gets selected for Germany. Nikki Washington will get quality minutes during the World Cup especially if O’Hara is selected and if England goes on a run. The bonus will be Pavalina Scasna. She will be counted on during the absences to lead the line and find a way to keep the goals coming. The Breakers also added numerous draft picks, but at this point it is not clear who among them will make the final 24.
Part 2 will discuss the implications of the 2011 World Cup rosters.