The Kansas City Current opened its season in North Carolina with a 1-0 loss to the Courage. Despite a standout debut performance by four newcomers who started the match, the Current were unable to find the back of the net.
“I don’t feel that we gave as great an account of ourselves for an opener,” said head coach Matt Potter. “But for us we’ll go back and take a look at the film and go from there. With a lot of new faces, it’s going to give us the pictures to see how we can grow and that’s what we want to do.”
North Carolina forward Kerolin proved to be a challenge for the Current backline early on. In the second minute, she found space down the right-hand side, capitalizing off a stumble by the Current backline, to force a massive save out of goalkeeper AD Franch.
An early highlight for the Current that would continue throughout the match was the tenacious play of rookie forward Michelle Cooper. She had several close chances throughout the first half, the best of which came when she found herself 1-v-1 with Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy, chasing down a loose ball. Murphy came far off her line to snatch it away and preserve the shutout.
The Courage broke the stalemate in the 23rd minute. Newcomer Mille Gejl found herself open about 30 yards out from the goal. Her shot bounced just over the fingertips of a diving Franch.
Rookie defender Gabrielle Robinson earned her first NWSL start, lining up next to veteran Elizabeth Ball at the center back position. Just before halftime, the two combined for one of the best goalscoring opportunities of the first half. A long ball in from Robinson found Ball in the center of the penalty box. Ball tapped the ball in toward goal, but it just barely rolled out to the left.
The Current started to find more space in the second half, building through the midfield to provide more opportunities to newcomer forwards Cooper, fellow rookie Alexa Spaanstra and Swedish international Mimmi Larsson. The team also focused in on set pieces, logging 10 corner kicks to North Carolina’s three.
In the 69th minute, midfielder Alex Loera launched a free kick from 25 yards out and perfectly placed the ball at the back post. Unfortunately, the Current’s forwards were blocked by the Courage backline.
The Current closed out the match with another incredible chance in stoppage time from Cooper. As the ball bounced around in the box from a free kick, her first touch knocked it straight up in the air, and the ensuing volley snuck right over the crossbar.
The Kansas City Current look to #PackThePark and break the Current’s attendance record for the home opener Saturday, April 1. A rematch of the 2022 NWSL Championship, the Current host the Portland Thorns in the team’s first home match, broadcast nationally on CBS. Season tickets, flex plans and single match tickets are available for all home matches at Children’s Mercy Park. For pricing and information, visit kansascitycurrent.com.
NWSL Match Report
Match: North Carolina Courage vs. Kansas City Current
Date: March 25, 2023
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park
Kickoff: 1:09 p.m. CT / 2:09 p.m. ET
Weather: 66 degrees, cloudy
31’ North Carolina – Kaleigh Kurtz
50’ Kansas City – Kate Del Fava
81’ North Carolina – Mille Gejl
23’ North Carolina – Gejl
Kansas City Current Lineup: AD Franch, Hailie Mace, Gabrielle Robinson (75’ Addisyn Merrick), Elizabeth Ball (87’ Jenna Winebrenner), Kate Del Fava, Alex Loera, Lo LaBonta, Cece Kizer, Alexa Spaanstra (77’ Chardonnay Curran), Michelle Cooper, Mimmi Larsson (75’ Izzy Rodriguez)
Substitutes: Cassie Miller, Jordan Silkowitz, Rylan Childers
North Carolina Courage Lineup: Casey Murphy, Kiki Pickett, Ryan Williams, Kaleigh Kurtz, Emily Fox, Meredith Speck, Denise O’Sullivan, Narumi Miura, Mille Gejl (64’ Olivia Wingate), Kerolin, Tyler Lussi (77’ Rikke Madsen)
Substitutes: Katelyn Rowland, Haley Hopkins, Brianna Pinto, Sydney Collins, Frankie Tagliaferri, Estelle Johnson