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Goals early and late help Chicago escape KC with a point

The Kansas City Current kept their unbeaten run alive, though they conceded in the 90th minute to drop points at home.



Credit: Thad Bell

Kansas City’s red and teal (and rainbow) welcomed Chicago’s Red Stars in a Friday night clash at sold out CPKC Stadium. The Current were looking to continue a team record (and nearly a league record) unbeaten run, coming in with 14 straight dating to the final couple matches of the 2023 season. Additionally, KC has been nearly untouchable at home with five wins and a single draw in six matches with 23 goals for.

Of course, if there has been a weakness with this crew to this point in the season, it’s been on the defensive end, giving up goals against the run of play or off set pieces. KC had conceded 17 goals coming in, including 13 at home. This tendency came to the forefront early in this match when USWNT stalwart Mallory Swanson got in behind the defensive line and slotted home a shot from a tight angle. This would prove to be Chicago’s lone shot on target and one of just three total shots for the Red Stars in half number one.

Compare this to the first half stats for Kansas City and the 0-1 halftime deficit was surprising. KC had 18 total shots, five on target and 68 percent of the possession. Temwa Chawinga, in particular, was running at the Chicago goal all half and had two “big chances,” one of which she blasted into Naeher and the other of which she poked wide. This half was not the first time this season that the Current had peppered an opposing goal with shots but failed to notch a goal (or even really test the keeper). Many Current attackers: LaBonta, Bia, Rodriguez, Debinha, DiBernardo, and others all had quality strikes that they either rushed or blistered past one of the posts.

Speaking of DiBernardo, she was on the receiving end of a nasty head collision and had to be replaced at the 41-minute mark. Early word is that she’ll be continued to be evaluated for concussion symptoms throughout the week. Hutton (in a first non-start) came on in her place to try to spur KC into finding the tying goal before half. Despite 12 minutes added to the end of the first 45, the Current headed to the break trailing for the first time at home this season.

Six days earlier, Kansas City, started the second half against Seattle with two goals in the first 89 seconds, an NWSL record. While they didn’t match that tonight, they did get a pair within the first 14 minutes of half number two. In the 51st minute, with her back to the goal, Bia spun and redirected a deflection off a corner kick just inside the far post.

Seven minutes later, some physical play from Mace in the center of the pitch forced Chicago into a turnover. Bia then touched it towards Debinha who left it (perhaps unintentionally) for Chawinga to carry it just inside the box and rip a shot through traffic and into the net.

Those two tallies gave Kansas City the lead with 30+ minutes remaining. Based on previous home efforts, one of two things was going to happen: either the Current would continue to stretch the lead and win comfortably, or they would allow Chicago to hang around and potentially steal points late.

In an effort to see out the game, Andonovski went to his bench several times, bringing on Wheeler (for Cooper) and Lavogez (for Bia) and then a few minutes later Scott (for LaBonta) and Pfeiffer (for Debinha). This meant that of the original starting front six, only Chawinga remained. The strategy seemed to be working as Chicago rarely found themselves deep into KC territory.

That is, until a pair of corner kicks in the 90th minute, the second of which saw Swanson find her USWNT teammate Staab for a header just past Franch.

In “only” six minutes of stoppage time, KC pressed to regain the lead, but no great chances materialized. And while KC’s unbeaten run remains intact. Much like the Louisville game a few weeks ago, giving up a lead late at home has to feel closer to a loss. Additionally, the road only gets more challenging from here as the Current travel to Portland next week and then welcome Orlando (who quite possibly will regain first place this weekend after KC’s dropped points) a couple weeks later.

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