As if losing Amy Rodriguez for the season due to an anterior cruciate ligament tear wasn’t enough, FC Kansas City’s offense took another hit when the club announced forward Shea Groom would sit out of Sunday’s match against Sky Blue FC in New Jersey with a rib injury.
The offense is now left, in no small measure, in the capable hands of former U.S. women’s national team member Sydney Leroux. She has spent the last two games building up stamina after missing all of last season (pregnancy) and most of the 2015 NWSL season (ankle surgery).
Groom went down in the 68th minute of last week’s game against the Red Stars in Chicago when she collided with Sam Johnson on a tackle. In an attempt to kick the ball into the goal from a few feet outside the box, Groom appeared to slip on her planted foot and slid right into Johnson’s outstretched leg.
Groom had just broken away from several Chicago defenders, winning the ball and finally creating an opportunity for an FCKC offense that had only put three shots on goal in the first half against Chicago.
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“I think in Chicago we played one of our worst games this team has ever played,” manager Vlatko Andonovski said at practice this week. “We can only go forward from here.”
On a replay of the play involving Groom and Johnson, it could be seen that Johnson’s knee knocked into Groom’s torso. Johnson’s forearm hit Groom’s face as Johnson tried to regain her own balance. Groom immediately crumpled to the ground, covering her head with her hands and curling up on her right side as teammates and medical staff surrounded her.
Groom walked off the field of her own volition after three minutes only to return to the game without missing any time. Trainers, who gingerly eased her to her feet on the field, checked her jaw at the sideline once more but did not fight to stop her from returning to the game.
Groom, who if from Liberty, played all 90 minutes last Saturday and finished with three shots on goal, one of them in the 90th minute. For now, the club is only certain she will miss one game.
Without Groom’s steady presence on the field this weekend, FC Kansas City will lean on Leroux at the top and hope that midfielders Katie Bowen and Brittany Ratcliffe convert more opportunities for the Blues. Ratcliffe is from Williamstown, N.J., about 80 miles from Sky Blue’s Yurcak Field in Piscataway Township.
Leroux has yet to play a full game this year, logging 78 minutes against Boston and 73 minutes against Chicago. She scored one of FCKC’s two goals this season in the 7th minute of the club’s game against Boston, which was the season opener at Swope Soccer Village on April 16.
A saving grace for FCKC is the return of Canada national team midfielder Desiree Scott, who missed the first two games of the NWSL season with an ankle sprain. She’s projected to return to her spot in front of the backline, which should help shore up some of the issues FCKC encountered last week in allowing Chicago to retain control in its attacking third.
“I don’t want to be the person that just makes tackles and that’s my end game,” Scott said. “I want to win the ball and start our attack, so for me it’s about getting forward a bit more, getting involved in the attack and being a bit more dangerous and lethal.”
FC Kansas City (1-1-0) kicks off against Sky Blue FC (0-1-1) on Sunday at 5 p.m. The game, which is Sky Blue’s home opener, will be available for streaming on the go90 app and at go90.com.
FC Kansas City at Sky Blue FC
▪ WHEN: Sunday at 5 p.m.
▪ WHERE: Yurcak Field in Piscataway Township, N.J.
▪ Game will be available streaming on go90.com