Although FC Kansas City’s four national team players have not yet returned from their Women’s World Cup press tour, the Blues are hoping to capitalize on the excitement of their championship run.
“There is buzz in the community because people are talking about soccer, they’re talking about women’s soccer and they’re talking about the national team players,” Blues coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “That is something that helps this team and helps this league. This is something the national team created and hopefully it’s something we can use to grow the women’s soccer game.”
The Blues will get their first chance to test the waters as they travel to Boston to take on the Breakers at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Harvard’s Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium. It is the second of three meetings between the two squads and it will be streamed on fckansascity.com/live-feed.
The four players — Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly — are expected to return next week.
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FC Kansas City dropped the first contest against Boston 1-0 on May 30 after giving up a goal to former teammate Kristie Mewis. The loss came in the midst of a five-game winless streak, which ended on Friday with a 3-0 victory against the Washington Spirit.
“The last time we were in Boston, it was probably our poorest game of the season, but we go in there now with a different mentality, different mindset and hope to do a little better,” Andonovski said.
Last week’s victory against the Spirit helped the Blues climb into fourth place in the National Women’s Soccer League with a 4-5-2 record and a positive goal differential for the first time since May 8.
With a shuffling offense that scored just three goals in the previous four games before last Friday, FC Kansas City relied on a defense that leads the NWSL with five shutouts and has allowed a league-low 10 goals in 11 games. Behind veteran goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, the Blues are leading the league in clean sheets for the third time in as many years.
“Even the games we got scored on, three of the four goals were on restarts,” Andonovski said. “Sometimes little things will happen that change a game, but that’s what makes you stronger. We analyze those mistakes and try not to repeat them.”
Friday’s victory was the first time this season the Blues scored more than two goals and included Yael Averbuch’s first score for the team.
Boston is currently ranked eighth coming off a 2-0 loss at home to the Western New York Flash. The Breakers have a 3-5-2 ledger with a goal differential of negative eight.
Former FC Kansas City forward and Lee’s Summit native Morgan Marlborough will be playing for Boston.