NWSL Matchday 9
Who: Kansas City Current (2-6-0, 6 pts) vs Houston Dash (2-3-3, 9pts)
When: Friday, May 26, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park | Kansas City
Listen: KC Current Radio on the Kansas City Current app
The Kansas City Current (2-6-0, 6 pts) look to back on track versus the Houston Dash (2-3-3, 9pts). Houston has struggled to get wins with only two but have managed to three draws. The Dash are the lowest scoring team with just five but have also been stingy in defense, only allowing a total of nine, just two back from the league best of 7 goals allowed.
Kansas City is only three points behind the Dash in the standings and have scored 9 goals. The Current have at times been a sieve on the backline, giving up 16 goals, the second worst in the league.
Kansas City is on a four-game losing streak with three straight league defeats and a loss in the Challenge Cup as well. After starting the season with three straight defeats, the Current changed their head coach and won the next three (one Challenge Cup and two league) matches. The Current have struggled since then.
One of the weaknesses for Kansas City is when they gave up a goal, quickly giving up another goal or two to put them in very disadvantageous positions, making it difficult to recover. The young back line has tended to be good except in those moments.
A long list of injuries but some good news
Forward Kristen Hamilton is off the injury list and should again be in the squad for the match. Hamilton came on for nine minutes in the last match.
Hamilton was a huge part of the Current’s success last season with scoring and the tremendous work rate up top constantly pressuring the opponent. She has been in the squad a few times now and is likely to see the field in the return home.
More effort needed
Coach Sjöblom met with the media this week and highlighted that she thought the effort was not good enough in the recent defeats. She made use of the week of practice to correct the effort. “It’s been really nice to have a full week of practice, to be able to also have a lot of meetings with players, individuals but also the full group. It is harder when we have the cup games in the middle of the week to do all the tactical kinds of things that we want to do, but also the theoretical things. So I think we are really prepared for this game against Houston, mentally but also physically,” Sjöblom stated.
When asked about the meeting specifically, Sjöblom replied, “Some of the individual meetings has been about the expectations from me, the expectations of their role what I want them to execute on the pitch. To be a little bit more straightforward and clear, this is what I expect from you when you have the ball. I want you to be brave, I want you to try.”
“With the whole group, it has been more about the effort, what is effort for you,” Sjöblom continued. “It’s not just to run but it’s also that you need to be tired after a game. If you’re not tired, I don’t think you have been running enough and we need to run a lot in this league. That is what the opponent is doing against us. And also what can you do when your team mate has the ball.”
“We have been trying to be more specific with what effort is on the pitch because I think we had a lack of effort against Louisville.”
The meetings and training seem to be paying off, at least in training. “The response has been great in the training, doing the practice, the intensity is higher,” Sjöblom stated. “We have been scoring a lot of goals during the sessions and the energy has been really good. So the response is out on the field.”
Kansas City Current
Morgan Gautrat (calf)
Hanna Glas (D45 – knee)
Claire Lavogez (SEI – knee)
Alex Loera (foot)
Sam Mewis (SEI – knee)
Desiree Scott (D45 – knee)
Mallory Weber (SEI – knee)
Elizabeth Ball (hamstring)
Annika Creel (D45 – knee)
Emily Curran (SEI – knee)
Ella Dederick (SEI – knee)
Makamae Gomera-Stevens (SEI – knee)
Natalie Jacobs (head contusion)
Devon Kerr (excused absence)
Nichelle Prince (SEI – calf)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas City Current attacker Michelle Cooper – The rookie attacker was taken second overall in the draft when Kansas City made a dramatic trade up to get that spot. It took a while, but she has netted her first professional goal midweek in Louisville. The goal was assisted by fellow rookie and US youth national team mate, Alexa Spaanstra. Coach Sjöblom expects there will be many more to follow with the boost in confidence after the initial goal.
Houston Dash keeper Jane Campbell – Campbell is a big reason behind Houston;s low goals allowed stat. The national team keeper can stand on her head making saves.
Referee: Alyssa Nichols
Assistant Referees: Ben Rigel, Chris
4th Official: Velimir Stafanovic
VAR: David Barrie
AVAR: Joel McKell