SOMERVILLE- The Boston Breakers haven't given up hope on reaching the postseason, though they're in a tough situation following Sunday night's 2-1 loss to the Portland Thorns with just six games remaining in the regular season.
The Breakers (5-6-5, 20 points) currently sit in sixth place in the NWSL standings, seven points away from the fourth and final playoff spot. And the Breakers have been inconsistent all season, going from playing like one of the the league's best team to looking like complete strangers on the field.
Boston has a a lifeline, however. Five of their six next opponents are above them in the standings, so the Breakers could potentially leapfrog teams currently in playoff position if they were to have a late-season run.
Their record this season against their remaining opponents is a decent 3-2-3, meaning the Breakers should feel confident that they can take points from every game. The only team they have yet to beat is Kansas City, who they see this Wednesday in Missouri and then on Aug. 10 at home before the season ends.
If the Breakers can continue to find goals like they've been doing and sort out their defense, that kind of a late push won't be out of the question. They've been blessed with the hot feet of Sydney LeRoux, whose 10 goals this season are tied for the league's best scoring record.
And their captain, Cat Whitehill, has done yeoman's work in central defense trying to teach her fellow defenders on the back line and prevent the team from having any lapses.
Playoff caliber teams rarely, if ever, make lapses. But this season, the Breakers have been especially gaffe-prone. Their five-game losing streak between June 1 and 30 was due mostly to silly mistakes-- giveaways, not making the most of scoring opportunities, and losing focus late in games.
In fact, late-game errors became so common that Head Coach Lisa Cole began joking with her players that the focus needed to be on concentrating and playing well for 94 minutes (or for however long stoppage time lasted), not just for the 90 minutes of regulation time.
On Sunday against the Thorns, the Breakers blew another positive result by allowing a goal in the 87th minute. That goal sealed up the victory for Portland, who snapped Boston's four-game unbeaten streak. That's the inconsistency the Breakers have to avoid with just six games left.
But for the Breakers this year, their inconsistency should open their eyes to some possibilities. They've beaten all but two teams. They started the season on a four-game unbeaten run, then went on a winless skid in June, which was followed by this recently snapped unbeaten streak.
So the Breakers, who have never missed out on the playoffs in either the WUSA, WPS, or WPSL Elite, know that they're capable of earning points almost anywhere despite their continuously fluctuating form.
You can reach Julian at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @juliancardillo
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