KC NWSL reveal new team name, wrap up season with 3-0 loss

After the team’s 3-0 loss to the OL Reign, team captain Rachel Corsie kept warm with her new Kansas City Current scarf. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Kansas City’s NWSL team dropped the final game of their inaugural season 3-0 to Portland’s OL Reign, but the game seemed like merely an afterthought to the hype surrounding the announcement of the team’s new name, the Kansas City Current.

A halftime light show set the stage for the announcment, revealed simultaneously on the Legends Field video board, on signs around the field, and on the team’s website and social media.

The Current players took the field in the second half wearing the team’s new crest: a vertical KC, crossed by a sweeping river shape, and adorned by two stars representing championships won by Kansas City FC.

Back to the game, the Current had trouble fighting out of their own end during the first half hour, ceding repeated corner kicks to the Reign. Kansas City’s defense didn’t give up a goal in that stretch, but lost captain Rachel Corsie to an injury in the 23rd minute.

Kansas City’s best opportunity came in the 34th minute, when Lo’eau LaBonta unleashed a shot from just outside the penalty area that passed inches outside the goalpost.

In the 35th minute, the pressure got to Kansas City, which conceded an own goal, a redirection on a Reign shot from distance.

No longer able to play for a tie, Kansas City pushed higher on their offense with five minutes remaining in the half. The change in tactics created sustained pressure, but no goals, and the halftime score was 1-0.

OL Reign didn’t take long to double its lead in the second half. In the 48th minute, Megan Rapinoe sent a corner kick that bounced to the back post where it was knocked in by Eugenie Le Sommer.

The Rapinoe-Le Sommer connection worked again in the 64th minute, this time with a cross into the box that Le Sommer headed home for a 3-0 advantage.

With a sizeable advantage in the late stages of the game, the Reign used all five available substitutions to protect key players as they tune up for the coming NWSL playoffs.

The loss snapped Kansas City’s streak of seven home games without a loss, and the expansion squad’s final record stands at 3 wins, 7 draws, and 14 losses.

The Current has announced the team will play the 2022 season at Children’s Mercy Park. The team’s ambitious plans include a training facility to be built in Riverside, Missouri, and a dedicated $70 million, 11,000 seat stadium to be built on the riverfront in Kansas City, Missouri, in time for the 2024 season.

Sportcaster Aly Trost emceed the ceremony to reveal the new team name and crest. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
The new KC Current crest decorated home plate at Legends Field. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Defender Elizabeth Ball made a sliding challenge to Reign forward Sam Hiatt. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
The ball rolled dangerously close to the goal as Elizabeth Ball and the KC defense warded it off. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Reign forward Eugenie Le Sommer launched a shot over her head on the KC goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Kate Del Fava defended against OL Reign forward Sam Hiatt. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
USWNT teammates Megan Rapinoe and Adrianna Franch met on the field. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Reign forward Eugenie Le Sommer headed the ball on goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta made a sliding tackle on Reign midfielder Rose Lavelle. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Reign forward Megan Rapinoe launched a shot just wide of the KC goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Defender Elizabeth Ball knocked away a shot near the penalty spot. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Desiree Scott cleared the ball from the KC 18-yard box. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Kristen Hamilton struggled with defender Lauren Barnes near the Reign goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Kristen Hamilton raced toward the Reign goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Reign goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi put herself in harm’s way to block a shot by midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

Piper stills Golden Tornado, moves on to regional rematch with Paola

Senior Divante Herrig-Brittian ran back an interception for a touchdown in Piper’s 46-6 win over Coffeyville’s Field Kindley High School in the first round of the 4A playoffs. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

A scoreless first quarter turned into a rout by the closing whistle, with the Piper Pirates notching a 46-6 defeat of the Golden Tornado from Coffeyville’s Field Kindley High School in the first round of the KSHSAA 4A football playoffs.

Six different players scored the seven Piper touchdowns, the first a 37-yard run up the middle by Miguel Martin two minutes into the second quarter.

Piper shut down a Coffeyville fake punt on the next possession to get a short field, starting at the Golden Tornado 36-yard line. A long completion from Blake Porter to Divante Herrig-Brittian nearly made the end zone, but the receiver was knocked out of bounds. Mason L’Heureux ran the ball in from 2 yards out on the next play, and Porter followed it up with a 2-point conversion run.

Divante Herrig-Brittian returned an interception 56 yards to the end zone on the next Coffeyville possession for a 20-0 advantage going into halftime.

Out of the break, Piper took advantage of a short kick to start at midfield. A 47-yard run by Dominique Herrig-Brittian put them at the Golden Tornado 3-yard line, and two plays later Porter hit Ethan Walker in the end zone for a 26-0 lead.

On the next drive, Evan Damron stripped the ball from Coffeyville quarterback Zac Becker, giving the Pirates another short field from the Field Kindley 23. Becker was injured on the play, forcing running back Amanie Luten into the quarterback role.

Porter completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Divante Herrig-Brittian, and kicker Zane Busick hit the extra point for a 33-0 lead.

Luten kept the next Coffeyville drive going with some impressive runs from the quarterback position, but tossed an interception to TiwJaun Griffin at the Piper 7-yard line to end the drive.

An illegal procedure penalty pushed the Pirates back to their own 3-yard line, setting the stage for Gannon Roth’s 97-yard touchdown pass to Dominique Herrig-Brittian on the next play.

The following Golden Tornado drive ended with Luten sacked and the ball turned over to the Pirates on downs at the Coffeyville 39. Roth hit Tannar McDaniel for an 18-yard touchdown pass, and Busick converted for a 46-0 lead.

The Golden Tornado got off zero in the final minute when Amir Luten made a long catch and run to the end zone.

The win sets up a rematch between the Piper Pirates and the Paola Panthers in the regional round of the 4A playoffs. The game will be played in Paola on Friday, Nov. 5, starting at 7 p.m.

Both teams are 6-3 following their first-round victories. Paola defeated Piper 24-19 in the Oct. 8 Frontier League match played in Paola.

Sophomore Evan Damron forced a fumble by Coffeyville quarterback Zac Becker. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Dominique Herrig-Brittian cradled a reception before turning up field. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Junior Mason L’Heureux hauled down Coffeyville freshman running back Aaron Tunstall. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Junior defensive back Miguel Martin returned an interception. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior quarterback Blake Porter ran in a 2-point conversion. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Freshman Tannar McDaniel caught a pass in the end zone. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Sophomore Zane Pudenz ran the ball in the 4th quarter. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior Dominique Herrig-Brittian caught a pass on the right sideline for a 97-yard touchdown reception. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior quarterback Blake Porter threw a short pass over the middle. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior receiver Divante Herrig-Brittian hauled down a pass along the left sideline. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Head coach Rick Pollard addressed the team after the game, encouraging them for the rematch against Paola. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

Russell extends scoring streak, earns KC home playoff match

Forward Johnny Russell pushed past defender Niko Hamalainen to score his first goal in a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday evening. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

The rain didn’t stop Wednesday evening and neither did Sporting Kansas City captain Johnny Russell, who scored both goals against the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 2-0 win. The goals extended Russell’s club record scoring streak to 8 consecutive matches.

Reserve goalkeeper John Pulskamp, pressed into service due to Tim Melia’s one-game suspension, kept the visitors off the board with two saves on well-hit Galaxy shots.

Sporting just missed an opportunity for an early lead in the 2nd minute. A corner kick from Russell fell to Ilie Sanchez, but his shot banged off the goalpost.

Kansas City had another flurry of shots near the quarter-hour mark, along with four consecutive corner kicks, but the Galaxy defense held fast.

Pulskamp earned his first save of the match when he got a leg on a shot from Dejan Joveljic in the 30th minute.

Five minutes before the break, Russell put Kansas City on the scoreboard. Gadi Kinda passed the ball to the Scottish forward in the right corner. Russell slipped the ball past defender Niko Hamalainen to earn a clean shot that he rocketed between the goalkeeper and the near post.

At the defensive end, Pulskamp picked up his second save in the 60th minute, smothering a shot at close range, and defender Luis Martins made a sliding block to deny the Galaxy an equalizing goal in the 73rd minute.

In the 83rd minute, Russell scored again off a pass from Kinda. From the right side, he curled the ball into the upper left corner of the net to double the lead.

The win puts Kansas City back atop the MLS Western Conference standings, and it assures them of at least one home game in the MLS Cup playoffs that start Nov. 20.

Kansas City has two games on the road at Minnesota (Oct. 31) and Austin (Nov. 3) before returning home to face Real Salt Lake in the regular season finale on Nov. 7.

Johnny Russell made a sliding tackle to break up a run by LA defender Derrick Williams. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
LA defender Sega Coulibaly leaped to clear a ball in front of the LA goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Johnny Russell and Graham Zusi clowned around with a professional wrestling move in honor of suspended teammate Tim Melia. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Roger Espinoza tangled with LA defender Julian Araujo along the left sideline. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
LA midfielder Rayan Raveloson tracked Ilie Sanchez, playing as a midfielder in the match. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Khiry Shelton went to the ground on a run up the middle. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Remi Walter’s shot on the LA goal was blocked. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
LA defender Derrick Williams slid in to block forward Johnny Russell. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Johnny Russell scored his second goal of the match in the 82nd minute. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)