It’s always tough for a sports fan to see their favorite team lose in a big game. What makes it even tougher is when that sports fan is you. I just watched my beloved Boston Breakers fall to magicJack in the Women’s Professional Soccer Playoffs. I’m not from Boston, I never lived in Boston, and the only thing I know about Boston, being from New York, is that everyone in New York is supposed to hate everything that comes out of that city. I could never hate that team though. I became a Breakers fan a couple years ago and with the players they have had coming through there, it just gets better and better for me. With WNY Flash joining the league this year they have become a second favorite. With talent like Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair, Brittany Bock, Ali Riley, Caroline Seger, and Ashlyn Harris, it’s hard to not take notice. They’re also as close to a hometown team as I have, since I am from Syracuse, NY before moving to Los Angeles.
But let’s get back to Boston. I think they were an underrated team this year. Let’s start with my all around favorite player who has been my favorite player for about 4 years, Leslie Osborne. She’s a central midfielder for the team who takes on a defensive or holding midfield position and is also their captain. She is a straight up baller on the field. She’s quick, she’s smart, and she’s vocal. She conducts her team and leads them through the game controlling the pace and the possession. I love watching her play because she is that person on the field who holds everything together. If I knew anything about building a house, I would say she is whatever makes that house stay together and not fall down and crush you in your sleep. But I don’t, so let’s go with this instead; she’s like the nail in the wall holding up a painting. Yeah, that sounds good. You might not always see the nail doing all of its great work back there holding up the painting, but it’s there. It is the only thing keeping that painting on the wall for everyone to see. Without the nail you would just have a blank wall and a painting sitting on the ground. That’s no fun. That painting is going to get ruined, nice job. She provides all the work to let other players shine and win as a team. I’m not saying she doesn’t get to shine as well, because she is so strong and well rounded as a player she definitely gets her time in the spotlight too. But the holding midfielder sometimes does go unnoticed for all of their hard work. So from now on, when you’re at someone’s house and you see a beautiful painting hanging on the wall I suggest you take a look behind it and make sure you comment on what a good job that nail is doing to hold up the painting as well. Don’t be rude.
I took notice of Alex Morgan about a year ago and as soon as I saw her play I said to myself that she is the future of women’s soccer in the US without a doubt. I still stand by that statement. I also want to throw two other names in there as well though in Lauren Cheney and Kelley O’Hara who both play for Boston. Lauren Cheney had one of the best first World Cups you could ever ask for from a player. Everywhere you looked she was there. She was playing a different position from what she is used to, playing an outside midfield spot, but you would never know it wasn’t her primary position. Normally a forward or an attacking central midfield, Cheney brings that flexibility to her game where she can do just about anything. This World Cup convinced me of it. If Pia Sundhage told her to go out there and play left midfield while covering right back and also making a few saves as a goalie from time to time all while juggling rubber chickens on a unicycle for comedic affect, I think she could have done it. Scratch that, I know she could have done it. She is a player who if you take your eye off of her for one second she will burn you. It might take you awhile to find her, but once you do you will find you’ve been burned. O’Hara is the other player I will put in that category of the future for the sport. The first time I saw her play was when she was playing for Stanford against North Carolina in the championship in 2009. UNC is my team for college so I was cheering them on but couldn’t help but notice this feisty little leprechaun running around creating a mess for UNC to deal with in the midfield and up top. It was an unfortunate end to see her getting a 2nd yellow in the game but I looked forward to hopefully seeing her go pro. When I saw her on FC Gold Pride the next year I was super excited for her. Without a doubt one of the most fun players to watch. She’s quick on the ball and is just a little troublemaker. The kind of trouble maker who makes defenders want to bang their head against the wall. She covers a lot of ground weaving in and out, disappearing and reappearing it seems. I also read that she is a beast on the fitness level, killing all the fitness tests. I have so much respect for someone like her who really prides herself on her fitness to benefit her game, which it has clearly. But I also read somewhere that she likes putting water on her cereal. Cereal is one of my top 3 foods and that just seems almost sacrilegious to me so I may have to deduct a point for that. But water on cereal or not, she is still my favorite little leprechaun.
Out of the whole squad of extremely talented players on the Breakers those would have to be my top three. This year I have also become a fan of Taryn Hemmings, Alex Scott, Jordan Angeli,and Meghan Klingenburg too. This is all still without even mentioning players like Stephanie Cox and Rachel Buehler from the US Women’s National Team. And of course former player, and the amazing legend in women’s soccer, one of my all time favorites, Kristine Lilly. The talent is endless on this team. Also, I cannot stop writing until I mention Kelly Smith as well. If we are talking international players she is at the top of my list. Christine Sinclair and Caroline Seger would hold high places as well but watching Kelly Smith play is just pure enjoyment. She has a determination in her eyes and a focus that makes you think if she stares at you for too long she will burn a hole through you. Hope Solo is the queen of the intimidating eyes and the stare down, for sure, but Kelly Smith just has a laser focus in her eyes that shows in her play. She is a phenomenal addition to the Breakers and I absolutely love getting to watch her play and make defenders cry as they realize they just cannot keep up with her absolute brilliance.
It’s sad to see them out of the playoff race but I am just grateful for them putting on show after show for us of the beautiful game. These girls really do show us the beautiful game too. They don’t show us the dark side of flopping and diving and dirty plays. They show us the skill, the determination, and the class of world class athletes who just flat out do work. And as much as I say I see the future of women’s soccer in Morgan, Cheney, and O’Hara, I also have to say that although I believe they are the future, they are also very present. No doubt they will be leaders for our country in years to come but they are already making such a sizeable difference to our nation and the sport that it almost seems false to say “future”.
So I’ll continue watching the WPS playoffs without my Breakers, and cheer for Morgan and WNY to take home the final. But for now I am going to go hang a new painting and could use some help so, Leslie, if you’re reading could you come help me hang it?