KC Current achieve come-from-behind victory, 4-3

In a thrilling seven-goal affair, the Kansas City Current (7-4-4, 25 pts, T-2nd place) took down the North Carolina Courage (2-6-4, 10 pts, 12th place) 4-3 on Saturday night in Cary, North Carolina, to extend the team’s franchise-best unbeaten streak to 10 matches.

Forward Claire Lavogez provided the game-winning goal with a strike from distance in the 79th minute to complete the comeback after the Current trailed by one goal on three separate occasions.

“Really proud of the group and how we stayed together and hung in there throughout the game in a very, very challenging environment,” head coach Matt Potter said. “North Carolina – their pedigree speaks for itself. To go on and win the game, we’re delighted, and we’re very proud right now.”

Saturday night’s match was an end-to-end affair from the opening kickoff. In what would become a theme throughout the contest, North Carolina opened the scoring in the 17th minute.

Rookie forward Diana Ordoñez notched the opening goal across after pouncing on a second-chance opportunity at the back post, her eighth goal of the season.

The Current did not wait long to equalize, tying the match in spectacular fashion in the 20th minute.

Following a corner kick and impressive bicycle kick by defender Elizabeth Ball to keep the play alive, forward Kristen Hamilton knocked in a driven shot on target from midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta. The goal marked Hamilton’s fifth of the season, which temporarily placed her as the team’s top goal scorer.

After North Carolina retook the lead in the 36th minute with a breakaway goal from midfielder Debinha, LaBonta leveled the match on the stroke of halftime with her first goal from the run-of-play in the 2022 regular season.

Forward Cece Kizer played a dangerous ball across the penalty box and, after a deflection, LaBonta ran onto the ball and smashed it into the net. LaBonta’s fourth goal of the season brought the match to 2-2 heading into the locker room.

Current goalkeeper A.D. Franch helped keep North Carolina’s offense at bay as the second half began with multiple key stops, but the Courage broke through on a set piece goal from Kaleigh Kurtz in the 56th minute. Kurtz’s headed goal struck both the post and crossbar before sneaking behind Franch.

Now down 3-2 with just over 30 minutes remaining, Kansas City went to work and completely took over the match.

In the 70th minute, midfielder Desiree Scott lifted a perfect ball down the line to LaBonta, who rolled in a dangerous cross to the penalty spot. Lavogez slid onto the ball but couldn’t quite connect, then Kizer slotted the ball home.

Lavogez was credited with the assist on Kizer’s goal, which marked her first NWSL assist. Kizer’s goal tied her with Hamilton for the team lead and club record five goals.

Minutes later, Lavogez completed the comeback with a moment of individual brilliance. Ball made an interception at midfield and pushed the ball ahead to Lavogez, who drove at North Carolina’s defense before launching the ball from over 30 yards away. Her shot sailed perfectly over Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy and into the top corner for her first NWSL goal. Kansas City held on from there to earn the 4-3 win.

Saturday’s win marked Kansas City’s fourth consecutive road victory, which extends the NWSL’s longest road winning streak in the 2022 season.

The Current became the first team since 2019 to win four road matches in a row. Additionally, the team now sits tied in a franchise-best second place in points in the NWSL standings ahead of a crucial home match against Angel City FC on Friday, Aug. 19, at Children’s Mercy Park.

The team is encouraging fans from across the region to #ShowUpKC for the Angel City match as the team looks to break an all-time Kansas City attendance record and fill the stands with over 10,000 fans.

Tickets for remaining 2022 home matches and 2023 season ticket membership renewals are available online at KansasCityCurrent.com/tickets.

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Sporting KC suffers late 4-3 loss at Austin FC

Sporting Kansas City suffered a late 4-3 loss on the road at Austin FC on Saturday.

Andreu Fontas, Willy Agada and Johnny Russell each struck for Sporting KC in the first half at Q2 Stadium before the hosts rallied with three second-half goals in a comeback capped off by a 95th-minute game-winner from MLS Golden Boot leader Sebastian Driussi.

Sporting opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Erik Thommy won a free kick at the top of the penalty area and struck the ensuing set piece with too much pace for Brad Stuver to handle. The rebound fell to the foot of Fontas, who hammered home his second career MLS goal and his first since October 2020.

The goal marked the second straight match in which Sporting scored in the opening 15 minutes after the team had failed to do so in the first 24 games of the regular season campaign. Saturday also marked the earliest Sporting has struck for two goals in a game this year as Agada doubled the lead in the 23rd minute.

Graham Zusi sparked the scoring sequence with a perfectly-placed pass into the path of Roger Espinoza, who superbly settled the service and fired an attempt on frame.

Stuver kept out the attempt but couldn’t recover in time as Agada – after scoring twice in last weekend’s 4-2 win over the LA Galaxy – pounced on the loose ball and snuck a first-time shot inside the near post.

Austin FC, the top-scoring team in Major League Soccer, responded with a goal in the 27th minute to cut the deficit in half. Espinoza’s goalline clearance had momentarily kept Austin at bay; however the ball recirculated to Jon Gallagher, whose half volley from 20 yards out found the back of the net off the glove of Pulskamp.

The visitors restored the two-goal advantage in the 40th minute as Russell converted a penalty that was won by Thommy on a challenge from Ethan Finlay. Russell’s team-leading ninth goal of the season moved the Scotsman into a tie with Davy Arnaud for third in club history with 52 career goals in all competitions and marked the first time in club history in which Sporting has scored three first-half goals in back-to-back regular season matches.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper John Pulskamp produced four saves on the night with one of his best coming in first-half stoppage time to keep out a long-range blast from Driussi. Sporting opened the second half on the front foot with two opportunities to find a fourth goal as Daniel Salloi’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was saved by Stuver at the near post in the 53rd minute and Agada was denied by a kick save two minutes later after the Nigerian striker got behind the Austin FC backline.

Austin FC’s second-half rally began in the 63rd minute as Julio Cascante headed home a cross from Driussi – following a fortuitous deflection off Fontas — for his third goal of the year and sixth of his MLS career. Austin FC continued to apply pressure in search of an equalizer and came close in the 66th minute if not for a pair of saves from Pulskamp in short succession to thwart second-half substitutes Danny Hoesen and Washington Corozo.

Hoesen ultimately leveled the score at 3-3 in the 85th minute on an impressive over-the-shoulder volley from near the penalty spot that pinged off the post and set the stage for a dramatic finish in the Texas capital. Driussi, fresh off his appearance in the MLS All-Star Game mid-week, delivered the dagger in the 94th minute with his league-leading 17th goal of the year.

The 26-year-old Argentine has contributed to goals in eight straight games and his latest sealed all three points for an Austin FC side that has now earned an MLS-best 20 points from trailing positions this season. Conversely, Sporting KC has conceded a league-worst 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches in 2022 and suffered the team’s first defeat after leading by two or more goals since September 2019.

Sporting KC will return home to play the Portland Timbers at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21, at Children’s Mercy Park as the club celebrates Retro Night with a nationally televised Western Conference clash on FS1 and FOX Deportes. Tickets for the match, presented by Children’s Mercy, are available online at SeatGeek.com.

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Monarchs strike back against Saltdogs

David Thompson of the Kansas City Monarchs launched a home run in the Monarchs 14-10 win over the Lincoln Saltdogs Saturday night, Aug. 13, at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by John Ellis, Kansas City Monarchs)

Ryan Grotjohn of the Kansas City Monarchs hit a line drive RBI double in the Monarchs 14-10 win over the Lincoln Saltdogs on Saturday night, Aug. 13, at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by John Ellis, Kansas City Monarchs)

by Kaitlyn Sanders, Monarchs

The Kansas City Monarchs (48-31) bounced back with a 14-10 win over the Lincoln Saltdogs (37-43) Saturday night.

The Monarchs look for a series win against Lincoln Sunday for the first one since the last series in July against the Sioux Falls Canaries.

Kansas City struck first Saturday as Jacob Robson walked before David Thompson launched a ball to center field for a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

The Saltdogs responded in the top of the second as Wellington Dotel singled to right and Hunter Clanin got hit by a pitch.

Skyler Weber then sent one straight back center field, scoring Dotel. Randy Norris snuck one down the third base side line for a double, tying the game at 2-2.

Lincoln took the lead at 3-2 in the third as Rayder Ascanio singled to right field and eventually reached third by a passed ball. A sacrifice fly from Josh Altmann then brought in Ascanio.

Matt Adams launched a towering rocket to the home run hill, almost hitting the top of the clubhouse, for a two-run home run, bringing in Thompson who had singled, making the score 4-3 going into the fourth.

The home runs did not stop as Ascanio sent a two-run home run to the home run patio in left, bringing in Justin Byrd, who walked.

Jason Rogers sent a deja-vu home run to left for another two-run home run in the same inning as Ryan Long had a single to right, bringing the score to 7-4.

Casey Gillaspie doubled to right field before Ryan Grotjohn did the same. Kevin Santa then sent a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Grotjohn to run in from third, digging into the Saltdogs’ lead 7-6 going into the fifth.

Clanin doubled to left field before Luke Roskam pinch hit for Skyler Weber, sending a ball to deep right field for an RBI double, extending Lincoln’s lead to 8-6.

The bottom of the fifth proved a big one for the Monarchs with Sweeney being hit by a pitch and J.C. Escarra and Gillaspie both getting walked. Grotjohn doubled to right for two RBI before Kevin Santa singled to center allowing Kansas City to take the lead at 10-8.

Robson slid into home after being walked to first and advancing to second on a wild pitch. He reached third on a fly out and Adams singled to center, adding to their lead 11-8.

The Monarchs kept the runs coming in the seventh as the bases were loaded again. Gillaspie got walked, Grotjohn singled to center and Santa bunted before Thompson singled to left field for two RBI, extending the lead to 13-8 going into the eighth.

Gillaspie sent the only solo home run for the Monarchs to deep center field in the bottom of the eighth, growing the lead to14-8.

The Saltdogs didn’t go quietly though as Dotel singled to left field before Clanin launched a home run to the patio in left, but it wasn’t enough as they still trailed 14-10.

Kansas City starter Lewis Thorpe went 2 innings pitched with 3 hits, 2 runs and 1 strikeout, and Zach St. Pierre finished with 4 innings pitched, 7 hits, 6 runs and one strikeout.

The Monarchs face the Saltdogs in the last game of this series at 3 p.m. Sunday at Legends Field.

The game can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 2:30 p.m. and the video stream airing on aa baseball.tv.

Tickets to Monarchs games can be purchased by calling 913-328-5618 or by visiting monarchsbaseball.com.