KC Current loses Challenge Cup semi to NC Courage

Current Forward Kristen Hamilton and Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland had differing reactions to Hamilton’s second-half goal in their Challenge Cup semi-final match. The Courage won the game 2-1. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

It was a soggy, disappointing Wednesday evening for Kansas City Current fans at Children’s Mercy Park. Under gray, dripping skies, the home team bowed out of the Challenge Cup pre-season tournament on a 2-1 loss to the North Carolina Courage.

The run of play favored the visitors almost from the start, and the Courage made it pay off in the 19th minute when Jenna Winebrenner was whistled for a handball in the penalty area. Midfielder Debinha put the penalty shot up the middle under the crossbar, nullifying A.D. Franch’s dive to the left.

The Courage doubled its advantage in the 36th minute when Kerolin Nicoli’s dribble caught the defense wrong-footed. Nicoli delivered a well-placed cross to Diana Ordoñez to shoot home from near the back post.

Kansas City created some momentum in the later stages of the first half, generating a series of corner kicks. The Current created some chaos in front of goal, and Alex Loera’s shot was deflected narrowly wide in the 39th minute.

The offense wasn’t able to find another clean shot, and North Carolina’s defense cleared the danger. A 42nd minute lunging save by Franch to stop a Nicoli sizzler from the left side kept the deficit at 2-0 at the break.

Current coach Matt Potter substituted freely through the second half to keep fresh legs on the field. Halftime substitute Lo’eau LaBonta brought some energy by finding lanes to push the ball up the left and center of the field.

Potter praised his team’s second-half response to the first-half deficit.

“I credit the team and the players for putting themselves in the position to score goals,” said the coach, “and we certainly did that in the second half. I felt we were the aggressor from start to finish.”

Kristen Hamilton got the home crowd back in a believing mood, scoring her fifth goal of the tournament in the 79th minute. Kristen Edmonds sent a free kick into the box, and Addie McCain won a header to put the ball at the feet of Hamilton in front of the goal.

Franch made another big save at the end of regulation to keep hope alive through stoppage, but the Courage kept the advantage and will move on to the Challenge Cup final against the Washington Spirit on May 7.

The Current are out of the tournament, but the regular season continues apace, with the home opener this Sunday against the Houston Dash, kicking off at 4 p.m. at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Forward Addie McCain won a ball in the air that earned her an assist on Hamilton’s goal. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Kristen Hamilton’s second half goal got the crowd fired back up. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta and Courage defender Merritt Matthias connected with the ball. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Midfielder Hailie Mace blocked a clearance from Courage defender Merritt Matthias. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Midfielder Victoria Pickett tried to connect on a first half corner kick. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Forward Elyse Bennett fought for an opportunity up the right sideline. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Defender Alex Loera headed the ball in front of the North Carolina goal. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Forward Kristen Hamilton had a near-miss on a second chance on goal. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Midfielder Chardonnay Curran looked for an opportunity in the closing minutes of the game. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

KC Current drops Challenge Cup home match 3-0

Midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta made a run from the left along the Louisville end line in the first half of the Kansas City Current’s Challenge Cup match. Louisville was the 3-0 winner. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Hopes were high for the Kansas City Current to deliver a show to their fans in Children’s Mercy Park after starting Challenge Cup play with a three-game win streak on the road. The fans and the team were both disappointed with the 3-0 result given to Racing Louisville FC.

Kansas City generated several chances in the first half, mostly through forward Kristen Hamilton finding space up the middle or along the left side. Hamilton had recorded two goals in the past three games, but her early chances against Louisville, including a one-on-one against the goalkeeper, went off target or were snuffed out by the defense.

Louisville got on the board in the 9th minute, forcing a Kansas City own goal when a cross into the box glanced off defender Hailie Mace and into the goal.

Louisville scored its second and third goals in quick succession in the second half. Lauren Milliet knocked in the rebound of an attempted clearance in the 60th minute, followed five minutes later by a very well played Louisville corner kick that was curled in front of goal by Emina Ekic and headed home by defender Gemma Bonner.

After the match, head coach Matt Potter described a narrow miss, not a catastrophe.

“We carved out some chances,” said the coach, “especially in the first half. [There were] limited opportunities in the second. I felt we did enough, and on a different day it goes our way.”

Potter and team captain Desiree Scott were both quick to express appreciation for the enthusiastic home crowd.

“We’re just looking forward to righting the wrongs from today,” said Scott, “working on what little improvements we can make and being back out there and putting it right for our fans.”

Despite the loss, Kansas City remains in contention for the Challenge Cup, leading the tournament’s Central Division and on pace to get through to the knockout stage, starting May 4.

The Current’s next home match will be the fifth of six scheduled Challenge Cup games, played against the Houston Dash on April 15, starting at 7 p.m. Kansas City will open its regular season on April 30 in Portland.

Midfielder Addie McCain won a ball in the air near the edge of the 18-yard box. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Joseph Straws III, also known as DJ Joe, repped KCKCC while he played music for the crowd entering Children’s Mercy Park. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Louisville defender Emily Fox gave forward Kristen Hamilton a nudge off course. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Forward Kristen Hamilton faced off with Louisville goalkeeper Katie Lund. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Rookie midfielder Chardonnay Curran crossed the ball near the Louisville end line. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Louisville defender Gemma Bonner made a sliding tackle on defender Hailie Mace. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Forward Elyse Bennett contested a ball near the Louisville goal. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

KC Current home opener to be Saturday

Saturday marks the 2022 home opener for the Kansas City Current as the team faces Racing Louisville FC at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Gates open at 12:30 p.m. with kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.

Kansas City enters the match undefeated with two wins and one draw, totaling six goals.

On Wednesday, the Current defeated the Houston Dash 3-0 behind goals from Taylor Leach, Kristen Hamilton and Lo’eau LaBonta. Rookie Elyse Bennett earned two career assists in her first start in the NWSL

Louisville sits in fourth place in the Central Division with a loss and two draws. U.S. Women’s National Team forward Jessica McDonald joined the team in the offseason and accounts for one of Louisville’s three goals in the tournament.

Last meeting

The 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup opened with the two 2021 expansion teams facing off at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville. The first match under head coach Matt Potter resulted in a dominant performance as the team outshot its opponent 24-9, holding a 54% possession advantage. Louisville scored first against the run of play, but midfielder Addie McCain scored her first professional goal in the 78th minute to earn Kansas City a 1-1 draw.

View from the top

Since the opening day match against Louisville, the Current won two straight games and scored a NWSL leading six goals. With seven points, Kansas City remains in first place in the Central Division.

The 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup features three regional groups of four teams. The groups compete in double round-robin preliminary matches. Following the round-robin portion of the tournament, the winner of each group and then the next top overall team advances to the semifinal round on Wednesday, May 4. The NWSL Challenge Cup Final will be Saturday, May 7.


The Kansas City Current match on Wednesday included several Challenge Cup milestones. Taylor Leach’s goal in the second was the fastest score in Challenge Cup history, with the assist from Hailie Mace being her fifth in Challenge Cup play, breaking the previous record of four held by Louisville’s Jess McDonald.

The 3-0 score was the largest margin of victory in the Challenge Cup and matched the largest victory in club history. Also, the Current now has a streak of seven straight Challenge Cup games with at least one score. To date, Kansas City is the only club to have scored in every single Challenge Cup match played.

Players to watch

Kansas City Current: Midfielder Desiree Scott – Nicknamed “The Destroyer,” Scott is a dominating presence in the midfield. Her patience and soccer knowledge have made her one of the most respected players in the NWSL. As captain of the Current, her leadership has been key to developing the team’s identity.

Racing Louisville: Forward Ebony Salmon – Salmon joined Racing midway through the 2021 season and made an immediate impact. After scoring in her first appearance, she went on to lead the team in goals and assists. On Wednesday against Chicago, Salmon earned her first start of the season and challenged the Red Stars’ defense with shots.

  • Story from KC Current