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KC Waits Until Too Late to Find A Goal

Current fall to Reign on the road



Vanessa DiBernardo | KC Current

After getting a much-needed victory last weekend, Kansas City traveled west to take on last year’s number one seed, the OL Reign.  Even after the win against the Courage, KC was looking up in the standings at the rest of the league and had to start stringing together victories to have any chance of even coming close to the expectations heaped on them during the offseason.  And unfortunately, the Reign made sure to keep KC at the bottom of the table with a 2-1 win on Pride Night in Seattle.

The game opened with a notable injury within the first minute as Megan Rapinoe went down clutching her calf without any apparent contact.  After receiving on field and then sideline treatment, she was subbed out.  The Reign, though, didn’t appear to miss a beat down the former Ballon d’Or Féminin winner as they pressed and harassed KC’s back line forcing multiple dangerous giveaways.  Miller made a couple of plays coming off her line but also nearly gifted OL the early lead when she sent a goal kick to a Seattle player.

Despite the steady pressure, the Current kept the game scoreless and also forced the Reign into picking up two early yellows.  KC then nearly broke through when Debinha found DiBernardo outside the box.  DiBernardo laced a rocket from 20 yards that Tullis-Joyce was just able to palm over the bar.  At this point it seemed as though Kansas City was gradually growing into the match only to suddenly find themselves trailing in the 36th minute.  Center back Robinson stepped in front of a shot and successfully blocked it but was determined to have hit her arm; the ref had no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick.  US national team player Sofia Huerta stepped to the spot and (after waiting a long time to actually take the kick) blasted it low and hard to her left.  Miller guessed correctly and managed to get a slight touch on the ball but could do nothing to keep it out.

While the PK was the only first half scoring, the game seemed to open up significantly after halftime.  A questionable decision from Miller to come out nearly allowed former Current Elyse Bennett to notch a goal as she got around the keeper and sent a shot rolling toward the open net.  Only a hustling run from Soto kept the deficit at one as she was able to clear it off the line.  Moments later, solid buildup saw Debinha again setting up DiBernardo, this time only about eight yards from goal.  DiBernardo once more made solid contact, but sent it just inches wide.

In the 60th minute, the Current celebrated knotting the game at one only to have the goal waved off via a VAR check.  After a short corner, Copper slotted home a cross from DiBernardo, but DiBernardo was judged offsides.  That missed chance would soon haunt KC as Jordyn Huitema would nod home a perfect cross from Huerta burying the Current in a two-goal hole and ultimately providing the game winning goal.

It appeared as though KC was going to go quietly into the Pacific Northwest night, but the team actually found a spark as soon as the five minutes of stoppage time was announced.  A couple of subs linked up as Larsson sent a cross through the six that a sliding Izzy Rodriguez was able to get just enough of a touch to redirect it inside the far post.  The goal seemed to wake the team as they played with urgency for the final few minutes, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

Consistent problems seem to be emerging for the Current, and unfortunately it’s a combination of both defense and offense.  Defensively, as was mentioned in the match preview article, KC has a pattern of giving up more goals than they should.  Often that’s a result of bad giveaways in the back, but today it was more bad luck (the handball) and poor marking (Huitema splitting Soto and Robinson with little effort on her way to scoring).  Since the calendar flipped past April, Kansas City has allowed 14 goals in 7 matches in all competitions.  It’s hard to have a winning team when you give up two goals per game.

Over that same time period, KC has scored just six—an average of less than one goal per match.  Some growing pains on the defensive side of the ball could be excused as KC are starting two rookies at center back, but no such excuses exist moving forward for the Current.  Yes, injuries are still a thing for the team, but most of the attacking players are heathy and there is no reason why this group couldn’t be a lot more threatening.

In an effort to find slight silver linings for the team from Missouri/Kansas, this match did see the return of Elizabeth Ball (out since the first match of the season) and the debut of Morgan Gautrat.  Each played the final ten-plus minutes.  Perhaps they’ll prove to be a boon for the team as they round into full match fitness.  Regardless, this is a team that has a lot more questions than answers right now and they’re slowing running out of time to figure things out.  A 3-8-0 record is rather unsightly.  They do return home for a pair of matches this week with the first one against Chicago on the 14th in the Challenge Cup.

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