Scoring has been at a premium for FC Kansas City in the early part of the 2017 season, and that continued Saturday when the Blues tied the Portland Thorns 0-0 at Swope Soccer Village.
With the draw, the Blues (1-2-2) are now unbeaten in their last five meetings against the Thorns (two wins, three draws), while also moving their unbeaten streak at home to five in a row.
The defense has been strong for the team all year, and the back line led by Becky Sauerbrunn was again a huge part of the Blues getting a point on Saturday.
“We work so much on team defense, but especially as a back line, I think we are really finding our feet,” Sauerbrunn said. “I think what has made our back line pretty effective is one person makes a mistake, the other three know they can’t make a mistake. You can try and interrupt the play and you know even if you’re a step too late or too early, you know you’ve got three people behind you that are covering you, and I think for a back line to have that trust is very important.”
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Neither team could get any opportunities early, with both teams combining for one shot on goal in the first half. In the 19th minute, the Blues got the first real scoring opportunity of the match with a corner kick, but the Thorns defense was able to end the scoring chance by knocking the ball out.
The Thorns (2-1-2) started to apply some pressure on the Blues late in the first half. Christine Sinclair missed a golden opportunity in the 37th minute to give the visitors a lead. She found herself in the box with no defenders around her, but her slow-rolling shot attempt hit the right post.
Both teams exchanged opportunities to score early in the second half, with the Blues picking up the pressure as the game went on. In the 65th minute. Sydney Leroux had a great opportunity, but Thorns goalie Adrianna Franch was able to make the save. Leroux had another chance 3 minutes later on a pass from Christina Gibbons, but her header missed just wide.
Leroux showed some signs that she is getting close to being 100 percent, and coach Vlatko Andonovski said Leroux is only going to get better as the season goes on.
“You’re going to see the best of her in the games to come,” Andonovski said. “She is moving in the right direction and she is very involved in the game. She gets around the ball and obviously had two great opportunities. When I watch the game, as long as I hear her name constantly, I am happy for now because the best of her will come.”
In the 78th minute, the Blues once again got a great look on goal, but Becca Moros’ shot just missed sneaking in the left corner of the goal.
FCKC’s defense had to hold on for one final frantic moment as the Thorns had an opportunity in the 90th minute, but Barnhart and the defense were able to make the neccesary play.
Despite not scoring a goal for the third time this season, Andonovski liked the opportunities his team got.
“We created the opportunities that we did today,” Andonovski said. “If the goalkeeper makes a save or we miss a little bit, that is the game of soccer. I think we are doing a good job, and even though we may not be as savvy or creative on offense, our hard work defensively created the opportunities we have offensively. Any time we can create any goal-scoring opportunities, I am happy.”
The Blues will hit the road in their next game, taking on the Washington Spirit on Saturday.