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Current Can’t Outpace Racing in Louisville

Cooper stakes Current to an early lead



AD Franch makes a save | Credit: Thad Bell

Kansas City headed one long state over seeking not just their third straight win, but their third straight road win. Something was going to have to give, though, because Louisville have been playing well at home of late and have really had KC’s number for most of their existence, including two total wins so far this season.

Both teams were missing some key pieces. This is nothing new for the Current as their injury roster usually reads like the starting lineup of a strong NWSL squad. For Racing, though, they were having to deal with the absence of five athletes on World Cup rosters, including the recent league player of the month, Savannah DeMelo—seeking her first cap with the US senior team. An argument could be made that KC benefited from the absence of star players such as Sophia Smith and Crystal Dunn in their win against the Thorns last weekend, so perhaps they could do the same in Louisville tonight (though certainly missing Brazilian star Debinha is no small thing either).

Fans were greeted by one surprise right off the bat when it was announced that AD Franch would be starting in goal. While both of Kansas City’s primary keeper options have had troubling moments this season, Cassie Miller seemed to have cemented her place as the starter as one has to go all the way back to May 17 to find the last match action for Franch. All five of Franch’s starts have ended in losses and she had yielded 14 goals coming in, not to mention that Miller contributed to a shutout last time out. The assumption may be that Franch has been proving herself in training, and for the most part, she did herself and her team proud in this match. She also hit a career milestone by recording her NWSL save number 400 shortly before halftime. For what it’s worth, career save 401 was even more impressive as she parried away a rocket from just inside the 18 at the halftime whistle to keep the score level 1-1.

Speaking of scoring, there was plenty of action right out of the gate and Kansas City ended up the beneficiaries of two arms from Louisville players. First, in the 6th minute, a Racing defender tried to clear the ball from her own box but blasted it off the extended forearm of a teammate. Just like she did in Portland six days ago, Cooper stepped up to the spot, arced her run to keep Louisville’s netminder, Lund, guessing and then easily slotted the PK home, this time just inside the left post.

A matter of moments later, Louisville’s Pickett sent a cross into the box that, after taking a couple of deflections, ended being ushered into the net. As Louisville was celebrating, the ref ended up making the decision (that was upheld by review) that it was off an arm. KC escaped that series with the lead, but that only lasted until the 20th minute when a couple of failed clearances off a corner led to a banger of a goal from Pikkujämsä.

The tide would continue moving in the wrong direction for the Teal when one of their most consistent attacking players, Kizer, turned her ankle in an ugly way and could put zero weight on it as she was helped off the field. The last thing KC needed was another injury, but the amount of pain that was etched on Cece’s face wasn’t a good sign. Perhaps the one silver lining is that the international window means that KC won’t have another league match until August 18th. How amazing would it be if by the time games resume, the Current’s injury list only included the three season ending ones? Don’t hold your breath, though, that has not been the team’s luck at all. (The one bit of good news on the injury front was that Alex Loera saw the field for the first time since April 1.)

As mentioned before, the match entered halftime tied, but it didn’t stay that way for long as Louisville lived up to their name and raced to a lead within the first minute of half two. Monaghan ripped a golazo from just outside the box that Franch could do nothing about. (Really, the Paramount announcers repeatedly sung the praises of AD suggesting she was the only reason the game stayed as close as it was.)

That was it for the scoring, and really Kansas City did little to inspire confidence in this match. They were outshot 26-6 and had precious few moments of even pretending to be dangerous. Racing’s high press gave the Current fits to the point where it truly seemed impossible for the team to build out of the back. This would seem to be a pretty effective blueprint for how to attack KC because the eye test confirmed what the stats and scoreline bared out; the team from Kentucky was the deserved winner.

At least KC was able to keep intact their weird streak of not earning any draws this season.

Also, it’s not very often that one sees a coach use every available field player sub, but everyone save Miller saw play time today (not that many would earn extra minutes once the team gets healthier with their performances tonight).

The Current’s next three matches are all part of the Challenge Cup. They’ll be finally back in Kansas City to take on the Houston Dash on July 22nd.

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