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Pride Night! KC Current hosting Chicago Red Stars match preview

Chawinga vs. Naeher? Swanson vs. Franch? The stars come on this Friday night in Kansas City as the Current host the Red Stars.



Credit: Thad Bell | KC Soccer Journal

Despite remaining undefeated, the Kansas City Current were likely happy to flip the calendar past the month of May. Over five matches during the month, the Current scored a total of six goals (half of which came in a 3-3 draw to Racing Louisville).

This, for a team that had notched 20 goals during the initial six matches of the season. So, as the team headed into June, the question became which version of themselves was closer to their true form? Well, early indications are that they are back to their high-flying ways as they tallied five in a win last weekend against the Seattle Reign.

The next test? A home date with the Chicago Red Stars this Friday for Pride Night. (Side note, these Pride cards that feature Cooper, LaBonta, and Prince look good!) This bout looks very different in 2024 than it would have last season when Chicago finished last, and KC was one spot ahead of them.

This time around, the Current remain one of two undefeated teams and are back in first place. Chicago opened the season strong but have slipped a little of late. They still sit above the playoff line in sixth place but have dropped their last three. They are coming off a game played at Wrigley Field (yes, the baseball stadium) that set the NWSL regular season attendance record at 35,038. Despite the fan support (fairly unusual in Chicago as they averaged a league-worst 4,848 last season), they came up short against expansion side Bay FC.

The Red Stars are led in the front and in defense by USWNT mainstays Mallory Swanson and Alyssa Naeher respectively. Part of what derailed the 2023 season for Chicago was Swanson’s preseason injury. In fact, there is a chance that Current head coach Vlatko Andonovski might still be leading the US National Team if Swanson had been able to participate in the World Cup as they are a significantly more dangerous team with Mal running alongside the likes of Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman.

In addition to these high-profile athletes, Chicago also boasts players like Sam Staab who recently made her USWNT debut, Penelope Hocking who has featured for some of the US National Youth teams, and Chardonnay Curran, the former Current midfielder.

Kansas City will counter with a very deep roster of their own. In fact, in only two matches this season has Andonovski rolled out the same starting lineup. Some of this is due to injury or international appearances, but when asked recently about the diversity of his lineups, Andonovski lauded the depth and preparation of all 28 rostered players. “We probably spend more time working with the players who are not playing than the ones getting ready for the game just so we can keep them up to speed all the time.” He went on to talk about the fact that on matchdays, the KC technical staff has games set up for the players who are not dressing. “If the quality of the roster is not that deep then you would probably focus so much on 10, 11, 12, or 13 players and hope that everything goes well for them. But we literally trust any player on the team.” He continued, “That’s a little bit of a luxury, but at the same time that can be a little bit of a headache too because that means that good players are not playing.”

Of the 28 rostered players, 23 have appeared in at least one of the initial 12 matches of the season. The only five who have not seen the field include the two backup keepers (Silkowitz and Hisey), two players who began the year on the season ending injury list (Glas and Weber), and Argentine international Sophia Braun who has at least made the game day roster.

And of course, any discussion of the Current roster isn’t complete without noting the ongoing record of having 16 different goal scorers on the season. Lauren, in her season debut Sunday, joined the fun and continued a recent trend of central defenders finding the back of the net (after Ball and Robinson in the previous two matches). Will Stine Ballisager complete the center back set this Friday?

Assuming the team’s May form is the outlier, look for the Current to test the national team netminder, Naeher, early and often, perhaps even twice in the initial 89 seconds of a half. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see another slightly tweaked starting 11 trot out onto the field sporting their rainbow jerseys under the Friday night lights.

WHEN: Friday, June 14 at 7:00 PM (Central Time)

WHERE: CPKC Stadium, Kansas City, MO

HOW TO WATCH: Prime Video 


KC Current: 8-4-0 (28 points, 1st place)

Chicago Red Stars: 5-1-6 (16 points, 6th place)

Last Match:

KC Current: 5-2 win home to Seattle Reign FC

Chicago Red Stars: 1-2 defeat “home” (Wrigley Field) to Bay FC

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