While the match was not a must win for Sky Blue FC, it was for FC Kansas City. A loss or draw would result in the two-time defending NWSL champions being eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in league history. Desperate to not go out just yet, FC Kansas City rallied back to overcome a deficit for the first time in club history.
"We are obviously very disappointed with the outcome tonight," Christy Holly, head coach of Sky Blue FC, said in a statement. "We did not truly play to our potential, which ultimately led to the result. The good thing is we can quickly put this one behind us. We will get right back on the field this Wednesday and continue to push towards our season goals."
The main goal the team has this season is to make it to the NWSL championship game, a goal that is getting more difficult to achieve with each subsequent loss.
Samantha Kerr did everything in her power to get three points for Sky Blue, and the combination of her and Leah Galton looked dangerous in the first half. In the 24th minute, the two hooked up for an opportunity on goal, but the shot was stopped by FCKC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. However, Kerr would strike again in the 41st minute when she and outside back Erin Simon connected for a Sky Blue goal, Kerr’s third of the season.
Sky Blue would enjoy the lead for only a short time as Tiffany McCarty would equalize in the final seconds of first-half stoppage time. A ball from Heather O’Reilly deflected off a Sky Blue player and right to McCarty’s feet just outside the goal area. She faked out goalkeeper Caroline Stanley, causing her to dive to the right as McCarty's shot went to the left with just enough power to roll into the back of the net. The score would be tied 1-1 as the game went into halftime.
Sky Blue started out the second half with possession, but Shea Groom got the half really going with a shot on goal that was just inches over the crossbar. That pretty much set the pace as FC Kansas City continued testing Stanley in goal. As both teams were hungry to claim the lead, the physicality of the game increased, and a number of fouls were called on both sides.
Erika Tymrak subbed in for Caroline Kaster in the 57th minute, but she went down with what appeared to be a left ankle injury in just the 60th minute after a collision with defender Kristin Grubka. She was carried off the field and Frances Silva was subbed in in her place.
Tasha Kai was later awarded a yellow card in the 84th minute after pushing Frances Silva down from behind. FCKC was awarded a free kick, which Yael Averbuch took from about 35 yards out. Averbuch’s free kick went over the wall and the fingertips of Caroline Stanley to score the game winner for FC Kansas City.
Sam Kerr was the strongest attacking player, scoring Sky Blue’s first half goal and putting several other shots on goal. She almost scored a brace in the 78th when Erica Skroski sent a cross in to Tasha Kai, who dummied the ball. Her dummy allowed Kerr to send a rocket of a shot on goal, but Barnhart was able to once again make the save.
If Kerr was the strongest player in the attack, Kristin Grubka was the strongest on defense. Not afraid to mix it up, Grubka threw her body in front of opponents and the ball on a number of occasions to prevent FCKC from getting chances on goal. Although her play got a bit dicey at times, her fearlessness and willingness to get physical with the opposition kept the momentum from swinging in FCKC’s favor earlier on in the game.
Sky Blue FC next returns home to Yurcak Field to take on the newest NWSL team, the Orlando Pride, in the first of two matches against the expansion team in four days. The game will be played on Wednesday, September 7 at 7 p.m. EST and will be streamed online on the NWSL Soccer channel on YouTube.
|FC Kansas City||1||1||2|
|Sky Blue FC||1||0||1|
NJ – Sam Kerr (Erin Simon), 41’
KC – Tiffany McCarty 45+’
KC – Yael Averbuch, 84’
Sky Blue FC Lineup: Caroline Stanley; Erica Skroski, Kristin Grubka, Christie Ramone (C), Erin Simon; Sam Kerr, Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle (Maya Hayes, 76’), Leah Galton (Kelly Conheeney, 84’); Raquel Rodriguez (Nikki Stanton), Tasha Kai
Subs Not Used: Caroline Casey, Kim DeCesare, CoCo Goodson
Head Coach: Christy Holly
FC Kansas City Lineup: Nicole Barnhart; Brittany Taylor, Katie Bowen, Becky Sauerbrunn (C), Caroline Kastor (Erika Tymrak, 57’; Frances Silva, 62’); Mandy Laddish, Yael Averbuch, Heather O’Reilly, Tiffany McCarty; Desiree Scott, Shea Groom
Subs Not Used: Cat Parkhill, Alex Arlitt, Lo’eau LoBonta, Molly Menchel, Alexa Newfield, Brianne Reed
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
KC - Heather O’Reilly (caution), 43’
NJ - Tasha Kai (caution), 84’