FC Kansas City seemed ready to spoil Sky Blue FC’s party and leave New Jersey with three points.
Samantha Kerr had other plans. She scored all three of Sky Blue’s goals in a 3-2 win over FCKC 3-2 on Saturday in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Playing its 100th game in franchise history, Sky Blue looked defeated in the second half, with FCKC jumping out to a commanding 2-0 lead in the first half. But momentum shifted completely in the home team’s favor following a controversial call right before the intermission.
After Sky Blue FC’s Erica Skorski tugged at Shea Groom’s jersey, Groom retaliated with a shove, followed by a small tussle between the two players. Officials ejected Groom, while Skorski received a yellow card. Sky Blue upped the pressure with FCKC down a player in the second half.
FCKC coach Vlatko Andonovski was livid at Groom’s ejection.
“There were two games. There was a game before and after the red card.” said Andonovski, whose team hasn’t won in its last six games. “This league is the best league in the world, some of the best players play here, but with exception of some referees, this league has the worst referees in the world. (Officiating) I’ve never seen in my life. This is not just this season. Every mistake they make shows on the outcome of the game for us. I’m not gonna like it for the simple reason, not many teams will be able to beat us with good referees.”
Kerr’s three goals upped her career mark to 35, making her the league’s top goal scorer in NWSL history.
“She’s (Kerr) a world class player, she’s hard to defend.” Andonovski said. “We did a good job containing her for 80 minutes. But when you’re a man down, things like that happen … Unfortunately, the refs changed the game.”
FCKC (3-6-4) came out in a 4-4-2 formation with Groom and Sydney Leroux up top. The adjustments seemed to pay off as the Blues came out dominating possession. Katie Bowen tacked on the first goal in the 29th minute, a laser just outside the top of the box that beat Kailen Sheridan. Christina Gibbons added to the lead in the 42nd minute off an assist from Desiree Scott.
But then came the questionable call, and Sky Blue took advantage.
Sky Blue (7-6-1) outshot FCKC 29-16, while finishing with a 62.9 percent possession rate. Blues goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart made six saves.
“Around the league, there's absolutely no consistency with (officiating),” Andonovski said. “I don’t know what else to say.”
NWSL officials who worked Saturday’s game were Amber O’Connor, Benjamin Wooten and Amilcar Sicaju. Andonovski continued his rant on officiating, saying some officials should be released from their jobs.
“When you have a ref making a mistake, five years in a row, it’s somebody’s job to relieve the ref,” Andonovski said. “Same thing as players, if they make mistakes for five years, I don’t think they’re going to playing be in this profession still. Same thing with refs.”
FCKC hasn’t won a match since May 27, when it defeated the Washington Spirit 3-2. FCKC will face the Orlando Pride at 6:30 p.m. next Saturday.
Andonovski added, “We’ve got to keep competing against other teams, against referees...but it’s becoming too much.”
Sky Blue FC 3, FC Kansas City 2
Sky Blue FC
KANSAS CITY: Nicole Barnhart, Becca Moros, Yael Averbuch, Becky Sauerbrunn, Brittany Taylor, Brittany Ratcliffe (Caroline Flynn, 57th), Christina Gibbons, Desiree Scott, Katie Bowen (Maegan Kelly, 73rd), Sydney Leroux (Alexa Newfield, 83rd), Shea Groom.
SKY BLUE FC: Kailen Sheridan, Erica Skroski (Leah Galton, 67th), Christie Pearce, Mandy Freeman (Kayla Mills, 27th), Kelley O’Hara, Madison Tiernan (Taylor Lytle, 47th), Maya Hayes, Sarah Killion, Raquel Rodriguez, Daphne Corboz, Samantha Kerr.
Kansas City: 1, Bowen (Gibbons), 29th minute. 2, Gibbons (Scott), 42nd minute.
Sky Blue FC: 3, Kerr (O’Hara), 78th minute. 4, Kerr (Corboz), 81st minute. 5, Kerr (Lytle), 90th minute.
Shots on goal
Kansas City: None.
Sky Blue FC: Skroski, 45th+4.
Kansas City: Groom, 45th+4.
Sky Blue FC: None