Last time they found themselves in New Jersey, FC Kansas City wound up on the wrong end of an offside call that cost the Blues a potential 1-1 draw against Sky Blue FC on the last day in April.
It was only the third game of the season. FCKC was 1-2-0 after the loss, hopeful a few games at home in May would put the club, which missed the playoffs last year for the first time , right back in the postseason chase.
Now it’s the midway point of the season, and the Blues are only 3-5-4. They will head back to Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J., on Saturday for a 6 p.m. match, languishing in eighth place with 13 points and looking up at a Sky Blue team that’s in fourth place with 19 points going into Week 13.
FC Kansas City is in desperate need of the three points that a win — its first since May 27 against the Washington Spirit — would net.
But the Blues aren’t panicking. They’ve been here before. When they won their second consecutive championship in 2015, they were 3-5-2 halfway through the season.
“The fight, the energy was there,” said captain Becky Sauerbrunn after last week’s 2-1 loss to the Houston Dash. “I think we just need to be a little bit more precise and execute a little bit better than we have.”
Although it’s struggled of late, FCKC is still one of the premier defensive teams in the league. It’s only allowed 15 goals through 12 games, eight of those in six games on the road. The most any opponent has scored against FCKC is three, which fifth-place Portland Thorns FC did on June 28.
Still, the Blues’ ability to hold off attacks hasn’t inspired much on the front end. FC Kansas City’s 11 goals are the second-worst in the league, just two better than the Boston Breakers. During this five-game winless drought, FCKC has been outscored 10-4.
It will be a challenge for FCKC to change its luck against Sky Blue FC (6-6-1). Australian international and two-time NWSL player of the month Sam Kerr was at the Dolan Warren Awards in Australia when FCKC visited on April 30, so the club will have to adjust to keep the league’s second-leading scorer (6) out of the goal box.
And the offense will have to pick away at Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who surely gained some confidence when she got her second career clean slate by handing defending champion North Carolina Courage its first shutout of the year in a 1-0 win last week. Sheridan has allowed 19 goals this season and is second in the league with 50 saves.
The game will be available for streaming online at NWSLsoccer.com and on the go90 app.