— KC Current (@thekccurrent) June 19, 2023
This Sunday’s match between the Kansas City Current (3-9-0) and the Washington Spirit (6-1-5) featured a team battling for the top of the table (Washington) and one trying to find a way to dig their way out of the basement. For 80 plus minutes, it seemed like the Current would earn the W only to fall into the familiar pattern of leaking goals in quick succession.
Prior to the start of the match, Coach Sjöblom made the noteworthy decision to shift the team’s formation to a back four, instead of the back five that KC has played most of the past two seasons. This allowed for one additional attacking player: two center backs instead of three. A similar group that exploded for four goals in 16 minutes in Wednesday’s Challenge Cup victory, found more success with two goals in the first 23 minutes today.
The Teal (red?) exploded out of the gate with a record-setting goal for Michelle Cooper (her first regular season professional score) just 22 seconds in—the prior NWSL record for fastest goal was 25 seconds back in 2017. Kansas City took the kickoff, worked it up the right side with DiBernardo finding Debinha streaking into the box who sent a cross into the six towards Hamilton. Instead of reaching the intended target, a Washington defender deflected it right to Cooper’s feet. She took one controlling touch and then blasted the ball into the welcoming net, just a couple meters in front of her.
— KC Current (@thekccurrent) June 18, 2023
Both teams found some half chances over the next 20 minutes before the Current earned a free kick on the right wing about 30 yards from goal. Debinha launched a ball into the box that Gautrat (making her first regular season start for KC) headed back into the scrum except that it caught Hatch on the left elbow. VAR recommended a review and a couple moments later; Kansas City was awarded their first PK of the season. Debinha stepped to the spot and coolly slotted the ball home to the ‘keeper’s right.
EASY MONEY 💸
— KC Current (@thekccurrent) June 18, 2023
Kansas City’s two goal lead lasted for 13 minutes before US national team player Ashley Sanchez created a goal from nothing by ripping a shot from 20 yards out. A slight deflection off of Ball’s foot helped it scoot past Miller.
Undeterred, the Current kept pressing and briefly earned a 3-1 lead before the offsides flag came up. A beautiful ball from Debinha was met by an even better shot from Hamilton. Replays showed Hamilton about in line with the Spirit’s defense, but perhaps part of her boot was off. The play was close enough that likely whatever was called on the field would have stood and as it was, VAR declined to have the ref take a look.
Still, Kansas City was feeling good going into halftime up 2-1 and getting the lion’s share of the chances. That would continue into the second half except that Washington made a habit of doing just enough to foil the Current’s opportunities and in turn found ways to capitalize twice on their chances late in the match to steal three points and rip out the hearts of the KC faithful.
In the 82nd minute, Paige Metayer rose up in the middle of KC’s defense and deftly redirected a corner kick into the net. Just five minutes later, after a half clearance, Washington’s Bailey sent a cross in as KC’s backline was trying to push up the field and Tara McKeown timed a run in behind perfectly to collect and score. By this point in the match, players like Hamilton and Mace had been subbed out leaving Debinha, Cooper, Kizer, and DiBernardo to link up with second half subs like Larsson, Spaanstra, & Rodriguez to now try to push for an equalizer. And while the Current did manage to get several stoppage time shots off, none were dangerous enough to really stress Bledsoe. And speaking of goalkeeping, this was not Cassie Miller’s finest hour. While none of Washington’s goals would have been easy saves, she will likely be disappointed in herself to not stop at least one. It feels reasonable to be frustrated when the home team loses after leading by two.
Any sense of optimism created by the team’s dismantling of Chicago four days ago took a big hit in the last ten minutes of game time. The Current will have a week to regroup and find some answers before heading to Orlando on Saturday. Most teams will start to look different as top players head to New Zealand and Australia for the World Cup starting next month. For Kansas City, that may just mean the absence of Debinha (certainly noteworthy). Scott could end up with Canada but considering she’s yet to suit up for KC this season, it won’t force the team into any changes. Likely Franch has lost her spot on the US team, and otherwise only Larsson seems like a possibility to make the trip down under.