NWSL Matchday 7
Who: Kansas City Current (2-4-0, 6 pts) vs San Diego Wave (3-3-0, 9 pts)
When: Sunday, May 14, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park | Kansas City
Watch: KMCI, 38 The Spot or Paramount+
Listen: KC Current Radio on the Kansas City Current app
In a battle of water-themed teams, the Kansas City Current (2-4-0, 6 pts) look to bounce back from their loss last week with a victory over the visiting San Diego Wave (3-3-0, 9 pts). The loss at Angel City FC was the first under coach Caroline Sjöblom.
Wave head coach Casey Stoney will be working to turn the Wave around as well as San Diego has dropped their last two matches, both 3-1 losses. Bottom of the table Orlando Pride beat them in San Diego and then the Wave lost at the Washington Spirit. Trinity Rodman lead the Spirit with a goal and an assist. It took the Wave until the 90th minute to pull one back when Alex Morgan scored her fourth for the season.
The Current were winless in their first three matches and then won their next three (two NWSL and one Challenge Cup). The results started the same day previous coach Matt Potter was fired under strange circumstances. The team had been without several key players and was just getting Debinha and Vanessa DiBernardo back into the lineup at that time.
Coach Sjöblom received the benefit of getting two talented players into the lineup but also has been working to change the style the Current plays, working that new attacking style in to each practice.
“We’ve had a good week of practice and we feel that we’re really prepared for San Diego. It’s going to be a tough game against one of the world’s best forwards, Alex Morgan. But I think we have a plan and I’m looking forward to the game so much,” Sjöblom told media.
Morgan is a US Women’s National Team star and last season’s NWSL Golden Boot winner with 16 goals. She will never be easy to defend.
“First of all, I think we need to keep her back to the goal so she can’t be behind people’s line and our goalkeeper. We need to keep her behind our midfield and in front of our defense lines so that’s something we’re gonna do,” Sjöblom explained. “She’s not that comfortable on the ball when she has the back against the goal. I think we also can double up with our midfielders back checking against her as well.”
Kansas City has a young back line but Sjöblom feels confident they are ready. “The players are really prepared, but then we know when it’s the game. Hey, you are a little bit tired out of focus, you need to be in every, every situation 100% and even if you do make a mistake, you need to be there again and again and again against a player like Alex Morgan.”
A long list of injuries but some good news
It might sound strange to say an injury list with eight names on it is sounding better but it is still true. Forward Kristen Hamilton is off the injury list and should be in the squad for the match while defender Elizabeth Ball is not far behind.
Hamilton was a huge part of the Current’s success last season, both scoring and putting in the tremendous work rate up top to constantly pressure the opponent.
Ball is the most experienced defender and while the very young back line has played extremely well, with one fifteen-minute exception, Kansas City can use Ball being healthy. Ball is expected to be available in the next few days, which translates to two or three games. Perhaps even Wednesday’s Challenge Cup match.
After Hamilton and Ball, Morgan Gautrat is the next player expected back. She has been working on the side and should join full training soon.
Kansas City Current
Elizabeth Ball (hamstring)
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)
San Diego Wave
Abby Dahlkemper (SEI – back)
Meggie Dougherty Howard (thigh)
Giovanna DeMarco (knee)
Taylor Kornieck (abdomen)
Emily van Egmond (back)
Kelsey Turnbow (back)
Makenzy Doniak (thigh)
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. While she has not netted a goal yet and is working on adjusting to the new league, Cooper is getting closer to scoring with each opportunity. When Coach Sjöblom was asked how close Cooper was to getting her first goal, she smiled and responded, “She is close. She needs to be in a little bit more balance making the decision when to shoot, when to pass. She is right there.”
San Diego Wave forward Alex Morgan – Alex Morgan has been a superstar in the NWSL and on the U.S. Women’s National Team since breaking onto the world stage in 2010. In the NWSL has the most penalty kick attempts all-time, is fourth in goals scored and is in the top ten for Assists, Shots and Shots on Target. This season she is tied with Kansas City’s Debinha for the league lead in goals and is fourth in the league in shots taken.
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referees: Jennifer Garner,
4th Official: Kyle Armstrong
VAR: Geoff Gamble
AVAR: Shawn Tehini