I can’t say I wasn’t warned. When I mentioned that I needed to watch the Spirit’s 3-0 loss to Boston at some point, several people urged me to reconsider.
And I can’t say I’m glad I ignored that advice. This was a dreary game on a dreary night in Boston. No, the Spirit didn’t play particularly well. But neither did Boston, aside from player of the week Lianne Sanderson, the energetic Kyah Simon and the reliable Kia McNeill.
The field was one culprit in the general disarray. You’d think the Breakers would be used to Dilboy Stadium’s nasty carpet and narrow confines by now, but apparently not. On a rare Spirit corner kick, Heather O’Reilly protested when the ref tried to move her 10 yards away. O’Reilly was standing just outside the box. The hashmark showing the 10-yard distance away from the corner is clearly inside the box. Zoom in and see for yourself:
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(I think they may have re-lined the field since this was taken — I recall the hashmark even further inside the box, but that may be a matter of perspective.)
The other culprit was the lenient referee. The Spirit may have had a shout for a penalty kick when debut starter Jasmyne Spencer was hauled down in the box, but the Breakers could have asked how Julia Roberts was winning so many midfield battles by armbar.
Boston wasn’t as dominant in the first half as I would’ve expected after seeing the stats. “Shots on goal: 0” is the kind of stat you expect from a USA-Iceland game, not an NWSL game between teams that had drawn their first two matches. Yet the Spirit wasn’t overrun, and I don’t think the young forwards deserve much criticism. Tiffany McCarty was active throughout, and she set up Spencer for a good chance or two. But Diana Matheson isn’t going to sneak up on anyone any more, and the rest of the Spirit midfield didn’t create much.
Let’s just focus on the two highlights, one for each side:
– Sanderson’s first assist was sublime. I don’t even know how she saw O’Reilly behind her, but she flipped the ball over her shoulder perfectly into the speedy winger’s path. O’Reilly was lucky that Tori Huster had just taken a step back, keeping her onside, but it would’ve been a shame to waste a pass like that.
– Chantel Jones slammed the door on Katie Schoepfer’s penalty kick.
So now the Spirit will have three weeks to regroup. Literally. Teresa “Lupita” Worbis has joined the team, and she may not be the only one. The Spirit has long talked about its mysterious fifth free agent, a defender based in Europe. Then Steven Goff tweeted today that an attacker with German national team experience may join the team before its next game. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. (But they’re also not public yet for a reason. If the Spirit could announce a big player signing right now, I’m sure they’d shout it from the mountaintops. Or at least the top of one of the hills at the SoccerPlex.)
In the meantime, if you haven’t already watched this game … don’t. The NWSL archive at YouTube has far better selections.