After surging ahead with two goals in the first half, the Kansas City Current (3-9-0, 9pts) fell at home against the league-leading Washington Spirit (6-1-5, 23pts). Rookie Michelle Cooper scored her first regular season goal just 22 seconds into the match, making it the fastest goal in NWSL history.
“It’s an extremely frustrating feeling when we were so good in the first half,” said interim head coach Caroline Sjöblom. “I think we outplayed them. The players followed the game plan fantastically. And then in the second half, we continued to follow the game plan really well. We allowed them to come in a little bit more on our side of the half because we were tired, but I still think that we should have won the game.”
The action kicked off quickly, when DiBernardo slid a pass up the right-hand side to find Debinha charging past the Spirit back line. Her cross into the box was deflected and fell perfectly to the feet of Cooper. The rookie took a touch to steady the ball, then buried it into the net.
“To be honest, I was quite shocked,” said the rookie Cooper. “I thought it was going to come across first time, but being able to get that touch to settle it and knock it home was huge, and I was taken by surprise but got it done.”
In the 23rd minute, the Current got another chance to go ahead after the Video Assistant Referee recommended review of a possible handball in the box against Washington. The match official called for a penalty kick, which Debinha coolly placed in the bottom left corner. Tonight’s goal was Debinha’s 40th career goal, making her only the 12th player to hit this milestone in the NWSL.
The visitors cut the deficit in half in the 36th minute, when forward Ashley Hatch burst through a pack of KC Current defenders and took a shot from the top of the box. The ball bounced past a diving Cassie Miller to put the Spirit on the board.
Though Kansas City led the stats in shots on goal in the second half with five to Washington’s two, the Spirit would be the ones to find the back of the net. The Current had several strong defensive plays, including in the 51st minute, when defender Croix Soto tracked back to defend forward Trinity Rodman on a breakaway. The rookie went pace for pace with the decorated forward and poked the ball away to deny a shot.
Washington tied it up in the 82nd minute off of a corner kick. Midfielder Paige Metayer found the header at the near post and directed it toward the opposite side of the net.
Just five minutes later, the visitors took the lead. Defender Dorian Bailey lofted a ball into the box to find Tara McKeown making a well-timed run past the Kansas City defense. Though Miller dove the right way, the ball bounced past her and into the goal.
This match finished off a busy stretch of three games in eight days for the Current. Now, the team gets a week to prepare before heading to Orlando to take on the Pride next Saturday at 6:00 p.m. CT. The team has a stretch on the road before returning home on July 22 to host the Houston Dash in UKG NWSL Challenge Cup play. Tickets are available for all home matches at Children’s Mercy Park. For pricing and information, visit kansascitycurrent.com.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Kansas City Current vs. Washington Spirit
Date: June 18, 2023
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS
Kickoff: 6:08 p.m. CT
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny
24’ Washington – Coach (Yellow)
90’ +3 Washington – Assistant Coach (Yellow)
1’ Kansas City – Cooper
23’ Kansas City – Debinha (PK)
36’ Washington – Sanchez
82’ Washington – Metayer (Silano)
87’ Washington – McKeown (Bailey)
Kansas City Current Lineup: Miller, Mace (72’ Spaanstra), Robinson, Ball (45’ Soto), Del Fava, Gautrat (45’ Larsson), DiBernardo, Kizer, Debinha, Cooper, Hamilton © (68’ Rodriguez)
Unused Substitutes: Franch, Childers, Curran, Winebrenner, Merrick
Washington Spirit Lineup: Kingsbury ©, Carle, Staab, McKeown, Bailey, Metayer, Sullivan, Jaurena (45’ Sheva, 90+4’ Kuhlmann), Sanchez (86’ Douglas), Hatch (45’ Silano), Rodman
Unused Substitutes: Bosselmann, Barnhart, Brooks, Tanner, Ricketts