This week at the National Football Museum we’ve been looking at the Boston Breakers. The club features heavily in our collection as the women’s football collection previous owner Chris Unger was a committed Breakers fan. The Boston Breakers are also a great case study on the development of professional women’s football in America, as they are one of the oldest franchises still in existence today.
The Boston Breakers were formed in 2001 and joined the eight-team WUSA league. The team was named the Boston Breakers after Laura DeDonato, a 15 year old from Massachusetts, won a naming competition.
The WUSA league was short-lived, lasting only until 2003. That year, the Boston Breakers had a league best regular season record of 10-4-7.
The Boston Breakers ceased to exist for the next four years until they were re-established in September 2007 after joining the new WPS league. They played their first game in this league in 2009, finishing the season in fifth place with a 7-9-4 record.
In 2010 they finished with a 11-6-7 record; the extra games came about due to league expansion. The Boston Breakers finished second in the regular season league, but were ultimately knocked out in the semi-final of the play-offs.
The 2011 campaign saw the Boston Breakers finish with a 5-4-9 record, narrowly scraping into the play-offs. They went on to lose in the first round to MagicJack.
The 2012 Boston Breakers are a good example of some of the issues that women’s football has faced all over the world. The WPS was suspended due to financial difficulties. As a result, the Boston Breakers could no longer finance professional wages, and notable players such as Kelly Smith left the club. However, the team did not fold, instead joining the WPSLE. This league did not have the same professional requirements, and so did not require the same amount of financial commitment.
This year led to the longest period of stability in the Boston Breakers history. They went on to join the NWSL in 2013. They missed the play-offs that season, finishing with a 8-6-8 record, in 2014 they again suffered a down season, finishing with a 6-2-16.
2015 proved to be another disappointing campaign as the Breakers finished up with a 4-3-13 record. In 2016 they were disappointing once more, accruing just 11 points in 20 regular games. In their most recent season, they finished ahead of bottom club Washington Spirit on goal difference, but had little success otherwise, claiming four wins and seven draws on their way to a ninth-place finish.
While Boston Breakers would have desired greater success on the pitch, they are part of an expanding and successful league, which is an achievement in itself. When the 2018 season begins, they will have been in existence for nine unbroken years.
The most famous player to play for the Boston Breakers was Kristine Lilly, who is currently the most capped international player of all time with 354 caps. In two spells with the Boston Breakers, she made 79 league appearances, scoring 17 goals in the process.
Do you have any stories relating to your favourite women’s football club? Can you tell us any stories about supporting your team?