In a scoreless tie two weeks ago against the Portland Thorns, FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski said the best of Sydney Leroux was just around the corner. On Saturday night, she proved her coach right, scoring two goals in the first 27 minutes in helping FCKC overcome an early deficit and defeat the Washington Spirit 3-2 at Swope Soccer Village.
Leroux, who had a baby last September, has continued to work to get back to being one of the best scorers in the world. She said Saturday night was a culmination of a lot of hard work.
“It has been a lot of work to get back to where I want to be, but I definitely feel like I am getting there,” Leroux said. “I want to continue to get better every day both individually and as a team, and I feel we are. Being pregnant is no joke, but I am not pregnant. I felt good out there tonight, and I just want to build off that.”
Things didn’t get off to a great start for the Blues when Kristie Mewis gave the Spirit a 1-0 lead just 5 minutes into the game. However, Leroux and the Blues responded very quickly, with Brittany Ratcliffe finding her for the tying goal.
Just 18 minutes later, Leroux scored again for the Blues, giving the team a lead it would not relinquish.
Andonovski had confidence two weeks ago that Leroux was getting close, and he said Saturday was something he expected to happen.
“I see how hard she works every day, so I was confident this was going to happen,” Andonovski said. “Earlier today, she told me she was really feeling it, and thought she was going to get a goal today. She went out there today and got both of those goals and some great opportunities, and she just showed the type of player she is.”
In the second half, Becky Sauerbrunn, known more her terrific defense, got in on the scoring. In the 65th minute, Alexa Newfield delivered a corner pass that Sauerbrunn put in with a header.
The Spirit was able to get a goal in the 83rd minute to cut the deficit to one, but was unable to score the rest of the way.
Things are trending in the right direction for the Blues. The win improved FCKC’s unbeaten streak to four, and the team has scored four goals in the last two weeks, after scoring only three in the first four games.
With the offense starting to click and the team continuing to play solid defense, Andonovski likes where his team is, but knows his squad must keep improving if it wants to reach its goals.
“These next few weeks, I just want to continue to fix the little things we messed up on,” Andonovski said. “This unbeaten streak is nice for our team, but it really doesn’t matter what type of streak we are on. I am more worried about going out there and being the best team that night for 90 minutes. If we can do that, then the streaks will happen.”
The Blues will be back on the road at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against the North Carolina Courage, which is currently at the top of the National Women’s Soccer League standings.
FC Kansas City 3, Spirit 2
WASHINGTON: Stephanie Labbe, Alyssa Kleiner, Shelina Zadorsky, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Kristie Mewis, Line Sigvardsen Jensen (Havana Solaun, 66th), Meggie Dougherty Howard, Mallory Pugh, Katie Stengel (Arielle Ship, 77th), Cheyna Williams (Francisca Ordega, 28th).
KANSAS CITY: Nicole Barnhart, Becca Moros (Caroline Flynn, 83rd), Yael Averbuch, Becky Sauerbrunn, Brittany Taylor, Desiree Scott, Lo’eau Labonta, Brittnay Ratcliffe (Katie Bowen, 65th), Alexa Newfield, Shea Groom (Christina Gibbons, 76th), Sydney Leroux.
Washington: 1, Mewis, 5th minute. 5, Solaun (Ordega), 83rd minute.
Kansas City: 2, Leroux (Ratcliffe), 9th minute. 3, Leroux, 27th minute. 4, Sauerbrunn (Ratcliffe), 60th minute.
Shots on goal
Washington: Dougherty Howard, 39th; Ordega, 86th.
Kansas City: Newfield, 15th; Newfield, 70th; Taylor, 89th.
Kansas City: Newfield (second yellow), 70th.