Julie King has been with the Boston Breakers for all 5 seasons in NWSL. After a solid start, the captain could be leading the team to their most successful year in the league.
Six matches in, the Boston Breakers find themselves in the thick of things in the very tight NWSL standings. Second through seventh in the standings are currently separated by two points. We caught up with Breakers Captain Julie King to discuss the Breakers season and the parity in the league.
EH: Last season for the Breakers didn’t go the way you wanted, but this year the team has a lot of new faces and gotten some really good results early. How has this year’s team been different in your eyes?
JK: Matt [Beard] did a lot of work in the offseason getting in the people who he thought would change the team on and off the field and change us to a winning organization again. We have a lot of people with different strengths this season and we have a lot more depth. Matt has questions on who should start every week and I think that’s a testament to him bringing in people who are able to challenge for a spot.
EH: How has that depth helped you and the team as a whole?
JK: In my years with the Breakers we’ve always had great players, but this season we have a full roster. People who can compete and challenge for starting positions each week. As far as training goes, I think there’s a mentality that you’ve got to bring your best everyday, which is what you want in a team environment. It gives Matt options in different game situations, different types of players bring different strengths to the table, and how he can manage the team during the game. He can play different players to best fufill our strategy.
EH: You’ve had some great results, like beating Seattle by three. Some closes losses and the draw at the end against Chicago. How would you assess this first part of the season?
JK: For starters we’ve shown that we can hang with the best of them and we’ve shown teams have to prepare for us more than they have in the past. It puts a bit of a target on us which I think is exciting, it’s a new challenge. It helps bolster our team mentality that we have to bring our best every game because you can’t just step on the field and expect to win in this league, you have to work for it.
We’ve established that early on, which is important because we have a lot of young players. And obviously it was great to get that big win against Seattle. It helped our confidence a lot, because Seattle is a great team and have shown that. To go out and make that statement was exciting for us, that we’re here and we’re ready to play and we want to compete with the best of them.
It was good to get a point on the road last weekend [In Chicago] but we were disappointed to not come away with three points. It felt like the mentality of the team was disciplined, but that one slipped through our fingers. I want to win every game, but in terms of the team mentality, it was a good learning experience for us.
To know you have to do everything you can to win these games because every team has game changing players who can make or break the game in the 89th minute like Christen Press did. Credit to them it was a fantastic goal and finish, but it was a learning experience for us. Hopefully it gives us a little chip on our shoulder going into this weekend and change the mentality that we’re going to play the full 90-plus.
EH: Lets transition now a little bit more about the NWSL as a whole. You mentioned how you’re playing against elite competition every game, and in a league that’s very tight in the standings. What’s it like to be in a league where the margins are so thin?
JK: I think it’s awesome. It’s been cool to see the growth of the league over the years. The NWSL has established itself as one of, if not the most competitive league in the world and that’s exciting as a player to be a part of and see it grow. When I started I had something in the back of my head that I was doing something that would hopefully last. And be a part of future generations and that little girls could look up to us and have a dream that they could be a professional soccer player one day. To see that actually happening and to see it not only surviving but thriving is a really exciting and inspiring thing to be a part of.
My family and friends will ask me who are you playing and are they good? And every time I tell them yeah, and they respond with “oh you say that every week.” And I’ll say “because it’s true, any team on any given day can beat anyone.” It’s an exciting thing to be a part of as a competitor knowing you have to show up with your best form and your best play. It helps you grow as a player and as a team, and that’s what you want as a professional athlete.
EH: I’ll just wrap it up with this, you’ve seen the league grow but this entire time you’ve been with the Breakers. What’s it like to have that continuity with one organization while you see all this change and growth?
JK: My role has changed so much in my time with the team from the first season just trying to make the team and get my foot in the door as a professional. To now where I’m a veteran and captain, but I never look at my role as being a sure thing. I don’t ever want to feel complacent or comfortable, I thrive in being uncomfortable because I think that’s how you grow.
It hasn’t been great to be on the losing side at times, but Boston gave me a shot when other teams didn’t see my potential so I’ve been really grateful for that. So I hope to be a part of changing this organization to a winning organization because there is a lot of tradition of winning here, and I want to be a part of that. This past offseason when my contract was up, I had to face the question of “Can the organization make the changes we need to put us back to the top?”
I basically went to Matt and said this is where my head is at. I love Boston, and I feel a part of the Breakers family, and my goal was to be a part of a changed culture and changed team. When I went to Matt I said that you have the burden of proving it to me, I gotta see it. He understood and I’m grateful for that. We had a lot of meetings and he talked me through what his plans were. He was great about it, he understood and said if I wanted to move on he would help me with that, but ultimately he won me over and I said I’m all in now.
It was back in October or November when I said I want to be a Breaker, and huge testament to him. He put the work in, he got the players in and it’s been exciting to see the changes and the new team to mold together. It’s been a really fun thing to be a part of and I can’t say enough that I’m glad I stayed, my heart is in Boston and I hope that I can be a part of this team being the team that changes Boston to being a winning organization.