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KC Current open 2024 season with a significant 5-4 win vs. the Portland Thorns



Photo: Thad Bell | KC Soccer Journal

Game day in Kansas City had a new meaning today as the Current opened the 2024 NWSL season at CPKC Stadium, the first stadium in the world purpose-built for a women’s professional sports team. With a sold out crowd, a new head coach,  a roster with more depth, an opponent that, historically, has given them trouble, and a 2023 season behind them, this first game for the KC Current was an important one.

With a starting XI that included rookies Ellie Wheeler and Claire Hutton, and Bia Zaneratto, the Brazilian international who was signed in the offseason, and the return of Vanessa DiBenardo in the midfield, the Current began to control the game early, with plenty of opportunities created between the partnership of Debinha and Bia, and maintaining possession over Portland.

The first half was a better half for the Current, overall, with the KC leading 3-1 at halftime. But head coach Andonovski had to make substitutions to manage minutes for DiBenardo and Bia, and Debinha exited the game in the 32nd minute with a hamstring injury. The momentum changed in the second half, and Portland managed to put pressure on the defense and broke through for goals that put the sold out crowd on edge. Kansas City managed to hold on for the 5-4 win, starting the 2024 NWSL season with an important win.

Goals were plenty

There were no shortage of goals, that’s for sure. Nine total between the two teams, with Kansas City scoring three in the first half. Vanessa DiBenardo made it 1-0 in the 22nd minute, the first in CPKC Stadium history. Rookie Ellie Wheeler made it 2-0 before we reached half hour in the game. Wheeler became the 400th player to score a goal in the history of the NWSL. Bia then recorded her first goal with the Current in the 33rd minute.


Photo: Thad Bell | KC Soccer Journal

Portland’s Sophia Smith scored her first goal of the day in the 43rd minute, making 3-1 at halftime, with Kansas City fully in control, making it seem like the Current would finally be on their way to victory. But if anyone were to count the Thorns down and out with a second half to play, then how the next 45 minutes played out would be a lesson to not.

The Thorns, with the wind in their favor, began to pressure the Current defense more. Kansas City made it 4-1 in the 64th minute when Kristen Hamilton had a nice finish after Temwa Chawinga, who subbed in for DiBenardo, had an opportunity stopped by GK Shelby Hogan, but Hamilton was there to recover. The Current scored a fifth goal, with rookie Alex Pfeiffer becoming the youngest player in league history to score in the regular season at 16 years of age.

Portland kept themselves in the game, scoring three additional goals, nearly making a comeback and potentially spoiling the CPKC opening party. The Current made it to the final whistle, ending the game with a significant win to start the 2024 season.

NWSL Match Report

Match: Kansas City Current vs. Portland Thorns

Date: March 16, 2024
Venue: CPKC Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Kickoff: 12:02 p.m. CT
Weather: 62 degrees, sunny
Attendance: 11,500

83’ Portland – Sugita (Yellow)
85’ Portland – Hubly (Yellow)

Scoring Summary
22’ Kansas City – DiBernardo (Debinha)
25’ Kansas City – Ellie Wheeler
34’ Kansas City – Bia Zaneratto (DiBernardo)
42’ Portland – Smith (Fleming)
64’ Kansas City – Hamilton
68’ Kansas City – Pfeiffer (Chawinga)
74’ Portland – Beckie (Obaze)
90’+1 Portland – Beckie (Muller)

Kansas City Current Lineup: Mace, Wheeler, Ball, Zaneratto (46’ Pfeiffer), LaBonta(c), Hutton, DiBernardo (63’ Chawinga), Franch, Robinson, Spaanstra (64’ Lavogez), Debinha (32’ Hamilton, 88’ Ballisager)

Unused Substitutes: Steigleder, Rodriguez, Feist, Silkowitz

Portland Thorns Lineup: Hogan, Muller, Obaze, Hubly, Payne (75’ Reyes), Moultrie (62’ Sugita), Coffey (75’ Wade-Katoa), Fleming, Weaver, Sinclair(c) (46’ Beckie), Smith (72’ D’Aquila)

Unused Substitutes: Kozal, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg, Sheva


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