NWSL – Preseason Dossiers – Boston Breakers

Projected 2013 Boston Breakers Lineup

Projected 2013 Boston Breakers Lineup (Questionable Starters in Parentheses)

Free Agents

Kia McNeill – D

McNeill always seemed like a natural fit for Boston given her background as a college player and now as an assistant with her alma mater Eagles. After some trying times early in her WPS career, McNeill really came on as a member of Philadelphia in 2011 before a rather forgettable stint in Russia. With McNeill and Cat Whitehill in the middle of defense, Boston certainly shouldn’t be lacking in experience at the heart of the backline, which should be key given how young they could be in goal. While McNeill’s physical, combative style should help the club against some of the giants up front on opposing teams, the Breakers will hope the tide of rash challenges and bookings are kept to a minimum from the Avon native this season.

Lianne Sanderson – M/F

English international may have called time on her Three Lions career, but Sanderson has been scoring at a solid clip for Espanyol and D.C. United Women at club level the past few seasons. After a prolific run in England with Arsenal and Chelsea Ladies, Sanderson was often hit or miss at her first stop in North America at Philadelphia of WPS. But Boston certainly didn’t need to get any younger in their attack after their player allocation, and the experienced Sanderson should be a refreshing change of pace from some of the club’s bound-to-be inconsistent youngsters. Instead of leading the Breakers line, Sanderson figures to slot in a little deeper in all likelihood, perhaps playing behind a center forward as a second striker.

Kyah Simon – F

Boston scored a real coup last season when they brought in Simon (and Matildas teammate Tameka Butt) for their WPSL Elite campaign. The Australian international was pure dynamite in her first season in North America, shining as one of the league’s very best threats in attack. It goes without saying that the Breakers were very much covetous of Simon’s ability for another season in the U.S., especially after seeing the young Matilda lead her Sydney FC side to glory in the Westfield W-League back in her home nation. Finding a way to gel both Simon and the club’s other preeminent scoring threat, Sydney Leroux, into the same lineup effectively will likely be a key to Boston’s season in 2013.

Cat Whitehill – D

There were probably some doubts surrounding Whitehill’s long-term future after she faded from the international scene with the USWNT, but she’s been a solid piece of a struggling Atlanta Beat side before last year’s efforts with the Breakers in WPSL Elite. There’s always the danger that the dropoff could come suddenly, but odds are, Whitehill should be a strong starting piece for the Breakers in defense once again this year. Her partnership with McNeill in the middle of the defense could be one of the league’s best, and her delivery on long free kicks is another great asset for Boston to utilize in their attack.

Supplemental Draft

3. Joanna Lohman – M/D

The only real mystery coming into the Supplemental Draft was whether Boston would use a free agent slot for Lohman or draft her into the club. The club confirmed the signing of Kyah Simon late after the Supplemental Draft, making the selection of Lohman academic. Well traveled since her collegiate days with Penn State, Lohman looked to be on a one-way ticket out of the pro ranks after a forgettable stint with Washington in 2009. Lohman would promptly revitalize her career with Philadelphia, though her presence in the starting lineup waned a bit later in her tenure. With youth aplenty in front of her in attack though, Lohman’s experience and calm demeanor in the middle of the park could be an absolute godsend for the Breakers this year. Her versatility could see her fill in on defense, though she’ll likely be a prime contender for a starting slot in the center of midfield.

11. Katie Schoepfer – F

Another unsurprising pick when all was said and done, considering Schoepfer’s long stint with the Breakers over the past few seasons. Professional career looked to be going nowhere fast after a nondescript rookie season in WPS with Sky Blue FC. Appeared to be in last chance saloon with the Breakers in the final WPS season in 2011, with results being middling, with just two goals, and those coming against an inept Atlanta and a defensively challenged magicjack side. Proved to be an invaluable source of offense in WPSL Elite though, finishing with seven goals and six assists. Breaking into this starting lineup won’t be easy though, and Schoepfer might have to be content with being a super sub off the bench in attack.

19. Bianca D’Agostino – M

There was a lot of value in taking known commodities in the supplemental draft, and the Breakers are certainly familiar with D’Agostino, the Wake Forest alum having been a key member of the club’s WPSL Elite campaign last season. I wasn’t really impressed with D’Agostino during her tenure with the Beat, but the midfielder gained valuable experience with the Breakers last season and should be a solid squad player this year. I’m not sure she’s big and strong enough to hold her own deep in midfield, and she’s probably not dynamic enough to win a starting spot as an attacking midfielder though. Technically solid, D’Agostino should still at worst be one of the club’s first midfield options off the bench this year.

27. Jasmyne Spencer – F

Jet heeled forward out of Maryland has been a journeywoman thus far in her pro career, playing with the New York Fury of the WPSL Elite last season before a stint in Denmark with Brondby, including some cameos in the Champions League. Didn’t really light it up stateside last year with the Fury and was occasionally spotty at college level as well, though her pace also made her a terror against some defenses. Lacks size though, and given the multitude of options the Breakers have on the attack, she’ll likely be fighting for one of the club’s last roster spots.

35. Lauren Alkek – D

Alkek was a shocking pick in the 2011 WPS Draft and unsurprisingly didn’t make the cut with Sky Blue FC but has since plied her trade for WPSL side Bay Area Breeze and the Chicago Red Stars during last season’s WPSL Elite campaign. The right-back has Heather Mitts and Rhian Wilkinson ahead of her on the depth chart here though and could be in a battle for a roster spot if she can’t excel as an impact sub.

43. Jessica Luscinski – M/F

The Breakers used their last supplemental draft pick on another of their campaigners from the WPSL Elite season in 2012. Luscinski’s been a staple in the city for a while now, having been a star on some fantastic Boston University teams at college level. Though Luscinski was more than a little involved in the Breakers’ 2012 season, she struggled to produce offensively with any regularity, with just one goal and one assist on the year. Considering Boston’s suddenly flush with offensive talent, Luscinski could be in a fight for a roster spot this year.

Discovery Players

Julie King – D

Full-back returns for round two after a whirlwind calendar year that saw her play a part in last year’s WPSL Elite squad in Boston before returning back to The Plains to suit up for the Tigers’ basketball team. Back in Boston, King figures to be in a wide open mix for the club’s two full-back spots. More comfortable on the right, King may nonetheless see a chance to shine on the left given the club’s seeming lack of options there. Dangerous in the air and bombing forward on the flank, King’s also not afraid of the rough stuff and can more than hold her on in the trenches. Has the size and attacking ability to play just about anywhere on the backline, potentially making her an invaluable utility defender for Boston this season.

Lisa-Marie Woods – M

Jet setting Norwegian has racked up the frequent flyer miles on a career that’s taken her from her homeland to the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Australia, and everywhere in between. Was a mid-major star in NCAA at Oakland and Middle Tennessee State but has largely been a journeywoman since as a professional. That’s included stints back in North America, including a successful stint in the W-League with the title winning Ottawa Fury last season. Cruelly missed out on the 2011 Women’s World Cup with a hip injury and will want to force her way back into the Norway squad ahead of the UEFA Euros in the Summer. Capable in both attacking and defensive roles in midfield, and Breakers supporters will be hoping Woods is in among the goals again after last year’s impressive display in the W-League.

Libby Guess – M/F

Former North Carolina Tar Heel finally getting her shot at the top level domestically after success at semi-pro level in both WPSL and the W-League before a stint in Holland late last year. Combines a bull in a china shop mentality with the ball at her feet with no shortage of technical skill, making her a threat going to goal from either the midfield or spearheading the line. Problematic knee injury looks to be in the past now, though her fitness to go a full ninety minutes could be an issue based on past performances. That may matter little in the long run though, as Guess figures to most likely be used as a wild card off the bench, with her attacking flair a dangerous weapon to use against tired legs late in games.

What They Still Need

It’s pretty obvious that the Breakers still need a goalkeeper to help push Santiago, even if the young Mexican turns out to be the top option. The problem is, the goalkeeping ranks have been thinned out considerably in free agency and the supplemental draft. Former Oregon State keeper Colleen Boyd gained some valuable experience with the WPSL Elite champion WNY Flash last season and may well beat out her rivals, including Santiago, for the starting job entering 2013.

The starting backline looked pretty set for the Breakers, but those plans were thrown into chaos when projected starting left-back Casey Short tore her ACL and MCL in La Manga, Spain at the U23 Tournament for the U.S. Heather Mitts then retired soon after, leaving the club with some serious questions at full-back. Canadian Rhian Wilkinson looks likeliest to fill the slot at right-back, but the club still looks in desperate need of a left-back. Returnee Julie King is a natural right-back, but the Auburn alum might be forced to the opposite flank considering the paucity of known options.

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