The following Fan Post is written by Xander Kennedy aka SportingXK from the Kansas City Soccer Journal community.
The Kansas City Current (2-3-0, 6 pts.) visit Angel City FC (1-2-2, 5 pts.), carrying some momentum to the west coast in their next regular season NWSL match.
When: Sunday, May 7
Where: BMO Stadium | Los Angeles, CA
Time: 7:00 PM CT
Radio: KC Current Radio on Kansas City Current app
Angel City leads all-time series: 1-0-1
Previous 2 Regular Season Matchups:
5/21/22 – Angel City 1:0 Kansas City
08/19/22 – Kansas City 1:1 Angel City
Two of the newer teams in the NWSL restart their young rivalry on Sunday as Kansas City travels to Los Angeles to take on Angel City FC. Having met only twice before, the Current will be looking for their first victory in the series as they lost on the road 0-1 last May and drew at home 1-1 in August. Lo LaBonta is the only KC player to have scored against Angel City, a goal that came via the PK spot.
Since their last meeting, these two teams battled at the top of the draft, with Angel City trading up to get 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson and Kansas City following suit by moving up to sign Michelle Cooper. Both of these rookies have earned plenty of minutes so far and both are coming off quality performances last weekend. Thompson scored her second goal of the campaign against the Thorns while Cooper subbed on at halftime and immediately used her pace to create chances, one of which led directly to KC’s second goal. While the future may be bright for these two attackers (and by extension, their teams), the pressure is on for them to contribute considering the capital LA and KC spent to acquire them.
Five matches in to the 2023 regular season, these two clubs seem to be drifting in different directions. At the beginning of April, Angel City secured a nice road win against Orlando 2-1, but are winless since, including two Challenge Cup matches. Though, they have scored some goals and earned a pair of draws (three if you count the 0-0 Cup result versus the OL Reign on Wednesday this week), they have the appearance of a team eager to get back in the win column.
On the other side of things, the Current have made significant strides in righting their season after stumbling 0-3 out of the gate. Counting a road victory in the Challenge Cup, KC is 3-0 over the past few weeks with each victory coming by identical 2-0 scorelines. The Teal’s attack has looked increasingly dangerous in recent outings as Debinha has fully recovered from her offseason injury and netted four goals (including a brace a week ago), Cece Kizer has picked up where she left off last season by routinely getting on the scorer’s sheet and players like Hailie Mace and Kate Del Fava having opportunities to press higher on the wings.
Coincidentally or not, this winning streak has coincided with an abrupt change in command as Matt Potter was replaced as manager by Caroline Sjöblom hours before the Houston match on April 19. We’ll see if coach Sjöblom can carry her Midas touch westward.
Players to Watch
Cassie Miller (KC) – Besides the managerial change, the other shift the team has made during their current quality run of form is in goal. AD Franch played every minute in their opening three matches and allowed nine goals. In the three matches since (counting the Cup), Miller has played and allowed zero. It would be unfair to pin all the early season goals on Franch as the defense in front of her left a lot to be desired, and the assumption would still be that Franch regains her starting role soon—especially as she’s in the mix to head to New Zealand this summer for the World Cup. But any change back to Franch likely won’t happen as long as the team is winning and earning clean sheets. Over these three matches in goal, Miller has made a couple of nice saves, but also hasn’t been put under the sort of pressure that Franch experienced early on. It will be interesting to see if Miller rises to the occasion once she does encounter more consistent threats.
Julie Ertz (Angel City) – The LA team got an early season gift when United States Women’s National Team stalwart Ertz chose them as her club. Ertz is working her way back into contention for the World Cup and needed playing time with a club team. She knew she could immediately slot in as a starter with Angel City and has done just that. In the team’s last league match, she was involved in multiple goals as she slid through the back of a Thorns player and gave up a PK but redeemed herself by deftly heading a short corner into the back of the net. She didn’t play in their midweek Challenge Cup match and so will be rested for this home game against Kansas City.
Kansas City has yet to win a regular season road match this year, though they did jump start their current winning streak in the Challenge Cup in Houston. This feels like a good opportunity for them to notch a road W. Not only has Angel City been unable to earn a victory in over a month, but they played on Wednesday in the Challenge Cup.
Angel City have allowed 10 goals in their five league games this season which perfectly aligns with the two goals KC have been averaging over these most recent three matches. It seems unlikely that LA will be able to keep KC off the scorer’s sheet, but it also seems like this may be the time that the Current’s remarkable shutout streak comes to an end as they are still having to play with a rather makeshift and inexperienced backline. I’m calling a 2-1 KC victory.