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)

USWNT controls but can’t break through against South Korea, 0-0

South Korea defender Lim Seon-joo slid in to disrupt forward Alex Morgan’s shot on goal in the U.S. women’s national team’s 0-0 draw against South Korea. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

The pent-up, explosive energy in the massed fans at sold-out Children’s Mercy Park needed just one goal from the U.S. women’s national soccer team to set it off. The goal never came, but the excitement hummed on throughout the fast-paced, scoreless draw against the the South Korea women’s national team.

The U.S. had plenty of chances throughout the match, taking 19 shots and getting eight of them on frame, forcing South Korea goalkeeper Yoon Young-geul to save shot after shot to preserve the shutout.

The U.S. got good opportunities early on crosses from Megan Rapinoe on the left side to Alex Morgan in the middle.

The best chance in the first half came from Morgan in the 20th minute. She took a pass from Tobin Heath and dribbled past a defender to go one-on-one against Yoon, but the goalkeeper closed down the space and covered the shot.

A cross from Rapinoe in the 30th minute led to a flurry of three shots in front of the South Korea goal, but Yoon knocked away the first attempt, and two others were blocked before Korea cleared the ball.

Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, also the goalkeeper for Kansas City’s NWSL squad, was not under heavy fire, but made a diving save to stave off a South Korea shot in the 35th minute.

At the half, U.S. head coach and Kansas City resident Vlatko Andonovski subbed off Rapinoe and two others to get more of his team into the action. Kristie Mewis and Sophia Smith came into the match and continued the offensive intensity from the whistle.

The second half’s best chance came in the 50th minute, when Mewis blasted a shot that narrowly cleared the crossbar.

In the 63rd minute, U.S. team icon Carli Lloyd entered the game, earning a thunderous round of applause. Lloyd recently announced her retirement from competitive soccer at the end of the month, making this her penultimate match.

In the final minutes, the U.S. women crossed the ball repeatedly into the center, trying to connect with Lloyd for a game-winner. The connections were narrowly missed or were cleared away by the Korea defenders, and the match ended with a draw.

This was a “friendly” between the two squads, that is, the result doesn’t count toward the World Cup or other international competitions. The two sides will meet up again on Oct. 26 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The match also showcased Kansas City for officials from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, which is evaluating potential sites for the 2026 World Cup. The prospective World Cup match would take place in Arrowhead Stadium, and the event would make extensive use of Children’s Mercy Park and the Pinnacle training facility in Kansas City, Kansas.

USWNT and KC NWSL goalkeeper Adrianna Franch saluted the crowd after the match. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
U.S. forward Carli Lloyd headed the ball on goal in the second half. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
South Korea midfielder Yeo Min-ji saluted the crowd after the match. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Many young fans sported gear for popular forward Alex Morgan. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

American flags flew throughout the stadium. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Rose Lavelle won a header over South Korea defender Jang Sei-gi. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Carli Lloyd’s shot was blocked late in the match. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Sophia Smith and South Korea’s Cho Soh-yun went up for a header. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Hon Hye-ji disrupted a run from forward Sophia Smith. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Rose Lavelle pivoted away from goal to get the ball past South Korea defender Jang Sei-gi. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Mallory Pugh raced toward the goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

South Korea goalkeeper Yoon Youg-geul pounced on a ball in the 6-yard box. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Lindsay Horan headed a shot on the South Korea goal. Horan was recognized before the match for her 100th appearance for the U.S. women’s team. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Kelley O’Hara played a ball in to the South Korea goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Casey Krueger was well defended as she approached the South Korea goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

KC NWSL sprints past Houston Dash 3-0

Defender Elizabeth Ball (7) headed in a free kick to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead against the Houston Dash on Wednesday. Kansas City would go on to win the match 3-0. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Kansas City NWSL’s defense shouldered the load on Sunday, but on Wednesday it was the offense’s turn, racking up three goals and holding Houston scoreless to set the team’s largest winning margin in its short history.

Darian Jenkins’ 18th minute goal was a thing of beauty. From 18 yards out on the left side, she curled the ball with a graceful arc into the far upper corner of the goal. Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell leaped, but had no chance at a save.

After the game, Jenkins said that she had been practicing the shot and was happy to see it come into play during a match.

In the later stages of the first half, Kansas City stepped up its offensive intensity. Accurate passing in the build-up kept the home side in possession for extended runs.

In the 30th minute, Jenkins centered the ball for a header from Julie Bowen, but the shot was off target. Just after, Kiki Pickett took a shot up the middle saved by Campbell.

The pressure paid off in the 37th minute when Elizabeth Ball nodded in for a 2-0 lead and her first goal of the season. Julie Bowen set up the score with a free kick from the right side that dropped into a scrum of players about six yards out from the goal.

Kansas City didn’t give up on its attack after halftime, but the opportunities were fewer, with Houston clamping down on passing lanes.

A long range Addie McCain blast up the middle put a scare into the Dash in the 75th minute, ricocheting off the crossbar. In the 76th minute, Lo’eau LaBonta sent a well-placed cross into the box, but frustratingly couldn’t find a runner to finish it.

Kansas City scored the capper on a penalty kick in stoppage time. Jessica Silva earned the penalty when she beat the Houston defense and was fouled by Campbell. Lo’eau LaBonta took the kick and mashed a no-doubter into the lower left corner.

A climb up the NWSL standings now looks possible for Kansas City NWSL. Racing Louisville FC, loser in five of its last six, now sits just 2 points in front of Kansas City.

Kansas City’s next match will be at the Chicago Red Stars on Oct. 16. The next home match will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 against NJ-NY Gotham FC.

Midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta scored on a penalty kick in second half stoppage time. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell fouled forward Jessica Silva late in the match. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Desiree Scott headed the ball toward the Houston goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Houston defender Katie Naughton went up against Kansas City forward Kate Del Fava to clear the ball. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Jessica Silva blocked an attempted clearance from Houston defender Katie Naughton. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Addie McCain took a shot on goal in the first half. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Mariana Larroquette collected the ball in the Houston end.
 (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Darian Jenkins headed the ball in toward the Houston goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Maddie Nolf crossed the ball in front of Houston defender Allysha Chapman. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Addie McCain challenged Houston midfielder Sophie Schmidt. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Darian Jenkins beat forward Nichelle Prince to take a goal-scoring shot in the first half. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Katie Bowen took a shot on the Houston goal in the first half. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Mariana Larroquette and defender Abby Dahlkemper raced for control of the ball. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)