Heather Mitts

2013 NWSL preview: Boston Breakers

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Western New York Flash may have the last three titles (in three different leagues), but the Boston Breakers carry the claim of being the only franchise in the new National Women’s Soccer League to have also played in the WUSA and WPS, the first two attempts at professional leagues in the U.S.

The Breakers are now led by Lisa Cole, who was Tony DiCicco’s assistant in WPS and who took over as head coach last year, when Boston played in the semi-pro WPSL Elite League during the year of limbo for a women’s top flight.

Cole’s team should have no trouble scoring goals, but it lacks a proven No. 1 goalkeeper, and without that, it could be a very long season for Boston. That could prove for some high-scoring, entertaining games if the Breakers just aim to outscore the opponent.

Who you know: Boston was allocated speedy U.S. forward Sydney Leroux (pictured) and fan favorite right midfielder Heather O’Reilly to build the attack around. U.S. defender Heather Mitts announced her retirement just last month and would have been the other allocated U.S. player for the Breakers. This will be Leroux’s first professional league after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Beat in 2012 but never seeing the field due to WPS folding. O’Reilly has been in top form this calendar year, which is a good sign for Boston and the United States.

Who you should know: Besides the fact that these two players are top contenders for coolest hairdos in the league, Lianne Sanderson and Kyah Simon could end up being the life of Boston’s attack — the engines that setup Leroux and O’Reilly. Veteran defenders Cat Whitehill and Kia McNeill will be tasked with leading the backs…and the team.

What it means: Like a few other teams in the league, Boston’s outlook is something of a tossup. The Breakers are likely a middle of the table team, but whether or not that means sneaking into the Top 4 and the playoffs or dropping toward the bottom of the table will likely depend on coaching and how well the backline performs. The potent attack will need to live up to that billing, too.

Boston opens the season at home against the Washington Spirit on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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Heather Mitts retires: Time has come to move on

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After 14 years and 137 international appearances, U.S. international Heather Mitts became a former U.S. international on Wednesday, the 34-year-old right back announcing her retirement from soccer via Facebook.

The University of Florida product was a part of three gold medal winning teams during a national team career that began in 1999.

At the professional level, Mitts spent time with the Philadelphia Charge, Boston Breaks, Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat between the WUSA and WPS.

“The time has come for me to move onto a new stage of my career,” Mitts wrote on Facebook.

“It’s been an amazing journey with some obstacles but in the very end I feel so fortunate that we were able to close on a golden note.”

Mitts was part of the team that won gold at the 2012 London Olympics but had spent most of her time in a reserve role after the emergence of Ali Krieger before the 2011 World Cup.

In all, 104 of Mitts’ international appearances came as a starter. Her 137 caps are sixth all-time among U.S. national team defenders.

According to her announcement, Mitts plans to stay involved in the game and is set to assume a role with the Philadelphia Union:

I will continue to stay close to the sport as I will be working as a sideline analyst & ambassador for the Philadelphia Union while taking part in other soccer related projects. I also look forward to starting a family and becoming an ultimate soccer mom.

Mitts had been allocated to the Boston Breakers of the new National Women’s Soccer League.

The final thoughts from her Facebook post:

Its amazing how 28 years of playing a sport I love and always will, can fly by. From my first cap til now, the growth of the sport has been profound. I look forward to the launch & success of the NWSL, and rooting on my Boston Breakers. Old ladies club of Christie Rampone & Shannon Boxx keep the flame alive! I leave with so much gratitude to US Soccer for allowing us the right to play for our country. Lastly the fans. Your constant love and support for the sport and this team is among the best in the world. I look forward to joining you to cheer on this amazing team.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Thanks to all the people who have made this dream possible.