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What we learned: KC Current @ Seattle Reign



Photo: Thad Bell - KC Soccer Journal

The Kansas City Current wrapped up a three-game road trip in Seattle to face the Reign, the first match between these teams in 2023. It would be a familiar matchup between head coaches Vlatko Andonovski and Laura Harvey, who are the only remaining coaches from the NWSL’s opening season in 2013 and who faced one another in the 2014 and 2015 championship games, with the same teams they currently lead.

And maybe that was part of the reason for the 0-0 draw last night, that familiarity Harvey has of Vlatko’s style and being able to defend well against the Current’s attack. It could also be the short time in between games, or the four-hour rain delay on Sunday, or the travel, or the rotation in the lineup, or Bia not being available due to injury, or just a combination of these.

The Current remained unbeaten, and for the meantime, regained the number one spot in the standings. They were also held scoreless for the first time this season, and goalkeeper AD Franch recorded her first clean sheet of 2024. So what did we learn from this mid-week game in Seattle?

The Starting XI

After a four-hour rain delay in Houston on Sunday and short rest in between, there would be rotation for the starting XI, including changes in the backline with Regan Steigeleder and Stine Ballisager and up top with Michelle Cooper.

It was good to see players like Steigleder, Ballisager, and Cooper get the starting nods. The thing I wonder every game is, where is Kristen Hamilton? But that’s a topic for another day. Steigleder had a good game with 49 touches and completing 90 percent of her passes.

Eventually, Hailie Mace (46’ for Steigleder), Debinha (65′ for Lavogez), Lo LaBonta (75′ for Hutton), Alexa Spaanstra (75′ for DiBenardo), and Alex Pfeiffer (89′ for Cooper) came into the second half. The hope was that changes would bring about some success in the deadlock, but the Reign played so tight defensively that it didn’t matter.

I thought Cooper played too much in this game, and she quite doesn’t fit where she is positioned. She is coming off injury and needs to get back into form. No doubt. But there is just not enough yet this season for her to be a starter or play almost 90 minutes.

Seattle shuts down the attack

We’re used to seeing Kansas City finding a way to score in the first half, but in Seattle, it just wasn’t happening. The Reign did a fairly good job keeping a tight defense and limiting chances in the box, with the Current making most of the threatening shots outside the box. Seattle’s goalkeeper Laurel Ivory had an impressive night, making some key stops and finishing the match with six saves, tying her single-game career high, and like Franch earned her first regular-season clean sheet.

Seattle just knew how to shut down the attack, keeping numbers in the box, and double-teaming KC forward Temwa Chawinga whenever she had the ball. The creativity and presence of Bia Zaneratto was also missing in this game as she missed the second game with a foot injury.

We saw chances, though. In the 32nd minute, Lavogez’s took a shot on the goal, but it was blocked by defender Sophia Huerta, but Huerta cleared it dangerously towards the goal. If it wasn’t for Ivory being there for a quick save, that could have easily been a goal. Cooper also had an opportunity in the 44th minute right outside the box, but again, Ivory was there for the save.

This was a game dominated by the Current, with 60% of the possession, 19 shots, 12 of them on goal. The difference was that Seattle was prepared to face the Current and swarmed the final third to keep the Kansas City scoreless, and maybe that’s just where Harvey knew what Vlatko would be up to, and it worked. She is, after all, very familiar with his tactics.

These road games were tough

In the past two games, we saw a very different Current team, at least in terms of not being the dominating high-scoring team we’re used to seeing. Much of that could have been the four-hour game delay on Sunday, then the travel to Seattle, then having a short window to train and prepare. It all adds up.

But that the fact that Current return to Kansas City unbeaten still, despite the challenges, is what is pretty impressive.

NWSL Match Report

Match: Seattle Reign vs. Kansas City Current
Date: May 8, 2024
Venue: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA
Kickoff: 7:08 pm PT/9:08 pm CT
Weather: 61 degrees, sunny
Attendance: 5,083



Seattle Reign Lineup: Ivory, Huerta, Barnes ©, Holmes, McClernon, Athens (61’ Balcer), Van der Jagt (78’ Fishlock), James-Turner (61’ Stanton), Ji (90+6’ Mercado), Latsko, Adames (61’ Woodham)

Unused Substitutes: Perez, Brown, Lester, Weinert

Kansas City Current Lineup: Steigleder (46’ Mace), Chawinga, Ballisager, Cooper (89’ Pfeiffer), Hutton (75’ LaBonta), DiBernardo (75’ Spaanstra), Rodriguez, Franch ©, Feist, Robinson Lavogez (65’ Debinha)

Unused Substitutes: Wheeler, Ball, Scott, Silkowitz

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Bryan Flores (aka Chzbro)

1) Cooper continues to vex me; she had some great moments, but also some really bad touches in really bad spots. She also didn’t appear to be quite on the same page with DiBernardo/Izzy. Maybe she needs to be central. For me, Spaanstra is just a little bit better for now – at least on the wing.

2) Tough to learn much about the defense when they did so little defending. Robinson is the truth!

3) I like Mace better on the right.

4) Claire Hutton is my new favorite player. I can’t believe how good she is. It feels like she never misses a pass. Or a tackle. I’d say she’s in beast mode, but she has no other mode.


Cooper kinda looks like she’s just out there in destroyer mode sometimes. It works when she’s tracking back or bombing into the box, but there isn’t a lot of touch and she’s sometimes seems out of control.

Mace played much better – maybe she’s just back into form.

I thought Hutton was a bit of a gimmick as a young player and that she would surely sit once the team was healthy. That may still be true because it would be Debinha and Lo coming back, but you are right, she belongs.

I love Chawinga’s speed and work ethic, but Seattle made a point to shut down most of her service and her passing was not great. That was disappointing – but a very small beef.

These two games seemed to be great opportunities to get 6 road points, but, alas, it was not to be. As KC Outsider said after Houston – we just got goalied.

Let’s get home and stomp Cackalackie. Trying to get to the July 6th game, so let’s keep it rolling til then.

Thad Bell

I also think Cooper would be more effective central.

Hutton has also really impressed me with how she plays. Just 8 games in as an 18 year old. It will be interesting to see how she grows with experience.

Xander Kennedy

I also have wondered why Cooper doesn’t get more opportunities at the #9. She was a goal-scoring machine in college at the striker position, but the Current seem determined to make her into a winger. And speaking of the wings, I remain curious about Nichelle Prince. KC clearly wanted her, sending both Kizer and an international spot to Houston for her. It was unfortunate she started the season injured, but has been available the last few games.

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