It's been a while since I last blogged about X-Reds, a new section of the blog started with good intentions back in April before having to take a back seat due to university work (I'm now a graduate!).
But now, it's back. X-Reds has gone global - I'm in Boston!
I've come out here on a footballing pilgrimage, those who have followed LFCladiesfans for a couple of years may be familiar with my blogs on trips to Washington Spirit and Western New York Flash in previous summers. To mark graduating uni and before entering the scary world of applying for graduate jobs, I decided to take a trip to America and take in as many NWSL games as possible.
Arriving in Boston on Friday and watching their 3-2 defeat to Sky Blue FC yesterday afternoon (more of that later in the blog), on Wednesday I'll be headed to New York to watch the Flash play on Saturday and the following weekend catching both Chicago Red Stars and another Breakers game before coming home.
Boston Breakers are of course managed by ex-Liverpool Ladies manager Matt Beard, the coach who turned the Reds' fortunes around, signing countless excellent players, won two league titles and led us into Europe for the first time.
Matt has been joined in Boston by Whitney Engen, the US defender who cemented a place in the national team while at Liverpool. Whitney has been named captain of Boston, but is away with the US at the moment due to her inclusion in the Olympics squad.
Also following Matt to Boston is Louise Schillgard (was Fors) and Libby Stout.
Louise one of my favourite players to have watched at the Reds back in 2013, and out of retirement to play for the Breakers and not to overuse the word favourite, but my favourite goalkeeper Libby Stout!
On the day of the game my friend and I visited Havard University as the team play at one of their stadiums - Jordan Field.
The stadium is a short walk from the main Harvard campus and is right next door to the colossal Harvard Stadium - which you could walk right into and look around.
One thing that I love about women's football games in America is how excited everybody appears to be from the staff to the supporters about the game, the Breakers haven't had much luck in recent weeks and have registered just one win in the league this season. Yet there was an optimistic atmosphere - likely helped no doubt that the club announced the signing of another ex-Liverpool player Natasha Dowie (46 goals in 67 appearances for the Reds) two hours before kick off.
Dowie wasn't at the game yesterday but hopefully will be across for the Orlando game on the 31st.
I collect football scarves so bought a Breakers one (along with a shirt) for my collection, I even put it on for one hot brief second before realising that it was about 30 degrees out and swiftly put it into my backpack. The shirt however stayed on.
We settled into our seats, sat back to relax and watch the game. Then a drum started in the next section to us. I thought I'd left the drum behind in Widnes and here was a travelling group of maybe 15-20 Sky Blue fans that could rival Liverpool's excellent support. Although the lyrics to the songs could do with a little work, what could better Caroline Weir's Scottish ballad.
The Sky Blue fans also had a cow bell which was interesting and pretty much sang continuously from the opening to the final whistle.
The Breakers supporters had drums of their own - and flares!
On the field the Breakers got off to the best possible start, Stephanie Verdoia winning the ball inside the Sky Blue half and playing a nicely timed pass wide to the chasing Stephanie McCaffrey. McCaffrey's cross bounced around the box before being sent over the line by Angela Salem - scoring her first goal for the club in just the 3rd minute.
Just over 20 minutes later however, and following a couple of good saves by Sky Blue keeper Caroline Casey, Christen Westphal brought down Leah Galton in the area. Sarah Gillion stepped up to take the spot kick and duly equalised for the visitors.
Before half time, they would take the lead. Galton poking home Natasha Kai's cross to put Sky Blue 2-1 up.
At half time my friend Jack left, we had tickets for Paul McCartney at Fenway Park and he didn't want to miss any of it, so I moved to the opposite end of the pitch to sit with what I'm going to call the Breakers Ultras, because of the flares.
Unfortunately Sky Blue found the back of the net once more, a very well worked set piece move finished by Erica Skroski.
The Breakers rallied during the final 10 minutes; Schillgard, who I was genuinely thrilled to watch play live once more, became the centerpiece and it will be interesting and exciting to see her possibly revive her on-field partnership with Natasha Dowie once she arrives. As I mentioned on twitter yesterday in their one and only season together at Liverpool they netted a combined 29 goals with a number of Dowie's assisted by Schillgard herself.
It was Schillgard who teed up Julie King for the Breakers second of the afternoon. A delightful free kick that landed perfectly for King to head past Casey - leading my new Ultra friends to set off a flare!
This led to a tense ending to the game as the Breakers pressed for an equaliser that never came, the tie finishing 3-2 to Sky Blue F.C.
All in all it was a promising display from the Breakers, 2 goals scored against a side that hadn't conceded in the previous 3 games and a defence that contained Christie Rampone(!).
The side were also missing Engen and the suspended Brooke Elby, while Dowie could be the goal scorer they need to finish some of the chances created in the opening 30 minutes.
Following the game it was good to catch up with Matt and see both Libby and Lollo! It's also been great to meet Tris who lives in Boston and supports both Boston and Liverpool, I love being able to go to new places and meet people that I have met through LFCladiesfans! I'm already looking forward to my return trip here on 31st July.
p.s. my taxi pulled up outside of Fenway Park just as Macca came on stage, talk about timing! Although he got the words to Hey Jude wrong, na na na na, Fara Williams!