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KC Current lose home opener, 4-1 to Portland Thorns FC



AD Franch and Jenna Winebrenner. | Credit: Thad Bell

The Kansas City Current returned to Children’s Mercy Park for their home opener of the 2023 NWSL season, hosting the Portland Thorns FC.  The match, nationally-televised on CBS, was a rematch of the 202 NWSL Championship last October where the Thorns crushed the Current’s dream for a title. With a record crowd of 11,301, the largest for an NWSL game in Kansas City, the Current were hoping to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at the North Carolina Courage last week.

Still missing a majority of their key players, including Kristen Hamilton and Morgan Gautrat, head coach Matt Potter again had to rely on a younger starting line-up while and continuing the 4-4-3 formation from last week, though initially it did look like a 3-5-2. The positive on that report was Debinha and Vanessa DiBenardo upgraded to Questionable after unable to play last Saturday. Both made the 18 for the game day line-up.

As much as the return to Children’s Mercy Park and rematch was anticipated, it was Portland who made a statement early into the game. Just as the Thorns scored early in the NWSL Championship, they also got on the board early with a 3rd minute goal by Crystal Dunn, scoring from an angle to the right top corner.

Portland would extend their lead in the 18th minute after a penalty kick was awarded as Sophia Smith was clipped on the heel in the box by Gabrielle Robinson. Though it looked like a mild clip, the replay would confirm the PK, and Sophia Smith converted to make it 2-0.

The Current continued to struggle in the first 45, managing only one shot on goal and not looking like their 2022 selves, often looking cautious. Of course, much of that is due to the injuries to key players, but the momentum shifted in the second half, at least for 20 minutes, and Kansas City was able to score their first goal of the 2023 season in the 58th minute after Alex Loera served a ball into the box where forward Cece Kizer headed it in for the goal, giving the record-setting crowd a goal to celebrate.

Debinha, making her much-anticipated Kansas City Current debut in the 70th minute, brought hope to the Current’s chances of equalizing, but forward Sophia Smith showed why she was the league’s MVP in 2022, adding two more goals to Portland tally in the 83rd and 88th minute after KC’s offensive surge for 2o minutes.

Head coach Matt Potter credited the team for showing a glimpse of what this team can be, recognizing that there is work to be done still as the Current dropped their home opener 4-1. The Current are now 0-2 early in the 2023 season, after back-to-back losses. The Current return to Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, April 15, hosting the Orlando Pride.



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