There was plenty to be excited about for FC Kansas City prior to its match on Saturday night against the Orlando Pride, as the Blues celebrated their 100th game in the National Women’s Soccer League.
The party ended there.
From the first whistle, the Orlando Pride overwhelmed FC Kansas City, coming away with a 4-1 victory.
“I thought the game was mainly played in the middle of the field,” FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “They were slightly more aggressive than us, yes, but I would not say we were overwhelmed, because I did not think that.
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“They had a good chance, but so did we. They were more aggressive going towards goal, but we were comfortable with where we were.”
The first 45 minutes belonged to the Pride, and Orlando eventually got on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute when Alanna Kennedy’s header beat FCKC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
After the goal, the Pride (5-5-4) raised the game’s intensity. As the physicality heightened, FCKC midfielder Katie Bowen battled with Orlando forward Alex Morgan in the box.
Morgan went to the ground, and a penalty kick was awarded to Orlando.
Morgan did not waste the opportunity.
“Looking at the penalty after the game, I did not think it was a penalty kick. But it is what is it is,” Andonovski said.
Morgan’s score on the penalty kick came in the 38th minute, but FCKC (3-7-4) finished the first half on a positive note, creating several chances before the break.
Christina Gibbons, who made her second start of the season at center midfield, found teammate Brittany Ratcliffe at the top of the box with her cross. Ratcliffe finessed a shot that was headed for the back of the net, but Orlando keeper Aubrey Bledsoe made a dazzling save.
“We kept playing, and we kept fighting and we became more aggressive from that point on,” Andonovski said.
Though the Blues failed to score in the first half, the positive finish carried into the second 45 minutes. And in the 65th minute, substitute Maegan Kelly scored to cut the Pride’s lead in half at 2-1.
“Kelly has been great for us when she comes in off the bench,” Andonovski said. “She’s done very, very well for us. … Her energy and her aggressiveness attacking the goal have paid off.”
Just when it felt like the Blues were back in the game, Orlando centerback Toni Pressley scored one of the most brilliant goals of the 2017 NWSL season. On the left side of the field, with the ball on her left foot, Pressley hit a stunner into the side netting, extending the Orlando lead to 3-1.
“The shot Pressley had was an absolute beauty,” Andonovski said.
In the 75th minute, the Pride closed the door on the Blues, as Kristen Edmonds made it 4-1, capitalizing on a rare blunder by Barnhart.
The Blues return home next Saturday and will play host to first-place North Carolina Courage. FCKC and the Courage met earlier in the season on June 3, when North Carolina defeated FCKC 2-0.
Now winless in their last seven games, the Blues are desperate for a victory.
“It does not matter who the opponent is, we just need to win one,” Andonovski said.
“We do not deserve to be where we are at. We are just going to try to get points any time we step on the field, no matter who the opponent is.”