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The Current Surf the Wave to Victory

The Kansas City Current head on the road and knock off the top team in the NWSL in shocking fashion (with a little controversy sprinkled in).



Credit: Kansas City Current

The Kansas City Current headed west clinging to faint playoff hopes as they squared off against the first place San Diego Wave. The degree to which this season has not gone the way most people expected (or KC fans had hoped) has been well documented, and entering the match seven points below the playoff line with four matches remaining suggested the Current were primarily playing for pride at this point. While sneaking into the postseason was not yet mathematically impossible, overcoming not only the points separating them from the top six, but the other five teams sitting between them at the playoffs hinted the climb would be insurmountable. So then, the question became could Kansas City establish some momentum that would see them into the offseason on more of a high note, an offseason that would also see the completion of their own stadium. Ninety minutes of Water Derby soccer would provide some answers.

With that backdrop the opening whistle blew and almost immediately the Current indicated they wouldn’t be going quietly into the Pacific night. Two goals to the good within the first 22 minutes showcased the variety of ways KC can attack a team when they’re on. To begin with, Debinha illustrated why she is one of the highest rated players in the new EA FC 24 game with a 20-yard strike in the third minute of play. A long pass from Loera found Rodriguez down the left side who connected with Kizer who then slide it in to the Brazilian star. Debinha took a couple of touches toward the center of the pitch and unleased an inch-perfect rocket into the far post upper ninety.

As much as the opening goal was a moment of brilliance from an all-world type of talent, KC’s second tally was the definition of quality buildup and teamwork. At least six passes gradually moved the Teal’s attack from the right corner toward the top of the box and then finally a Del Fava cross found Hamilton in the six who got just enough on it to roll it towards goal. The SD keeper, Sheridan, got a mitt to the ball, but it continued its leisurely stroll net-ward, dinking off the inside of the post for good measure. It was Hamilton’s 25th career goal.

As much as Kansas City owned the first quarter of gametime, the Wave nearly found multiple ways back into the match over the rest of the half. First of all, San Diego appeared to score on an awkward interaction between Franch and Shaw in which neither actually touched the ball as it bounced in, but Shaw was judged offsides and to have impeded Franch. VAR confirmed the call and said video services would be used at least twice more in the first 45.

Earning her first start with KC, Ballisager was at the center of the next review when she cleaned up a home team attack and cleared out Alex Morgan in the process. Morgan would stay down for a while and VAR would use the time to check whether a penalty should be assessed. Ultimately the slide tackled was determined to be legal.

KC continued to live dangerously when VAR would actually summon the lead official to check on a possible handball in the box on Del Fava. We’ve noted here that CBS/Paramount is underwhelming in some of their camera angles and review presentations. That fact may have worked in the Current’s favor as no angle showed Del Fava from the front and after a long look the official declined to award a PK. The ball appeared to strike her forward shoulder and then, based on the movement of her trailing arm, perhaps also strike that. Again, though, there was no clear shot to determine where it connected with the KC outside back.

The Wave definitely ate their proverbial Wheaties at half and the Current’s Houdini act wouldn’t continue long into the second stanza. In the 50th minute, SD earned a corner that bounced off one head and then Enge got just enough of a touch on it to place it past AD. At that point, even though Kansas City still led on the scoreboard, the momentum seemed to be entirely with the home team, but Franch was having none of it. Despite facing six shots on target in the second half and the Wave seemingly living inside Franch’s 18 for long stretches, the once and again #1 KC keeper was consistently up to the challenge.

The Current barely sniffed their attacking half over the waning stretches of the game, and even the six (that somewhat inexplicably turned into nine) minutes of second half stoppage time wasn’t going to deny KC the victory and the three points that comes with it. Those points pushed (at least for the moment) our Midwestern rippling waters out of the basement and just four points south of the playoff line. With just three matches remaining (two of which are on the road), and a minimum of five teams separating KC from postseason play, the odds are still very long, but if nothing else, the team from Kansas (soon Missouri) showed what they’re capable of. It’s not often in any league that a last place team goes on the road and defeats a first-place team, but when they’re actually clicking, there’s little this team wouldn’t be capable of (again, that potential is exactly why this season has been mostly frustrating).

And as a bonus, KC got to play the spoiler role and knocked San Diego out of the pole position for the Supporters Shield.

A couple of stoppage time notes: Brazilian World Cup defender, Lauren, made her KC debut. Also, after sending a header just wide, Morgan had to leave the field and ultimate made her way into the locker room forcing the Wave to play down a woman for the final few moments and calling into question Morgan’s participation in the upcoming USWNT activities.

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