Despite playing without one of its biggest offensive weapons, FC Kansas City turned in its most explosive performance of the season and took back a playoff berth in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Four different players scored and the Blues recorded their fifth shutout of the season with a 4-0 victory over the Western New York Flash in front of a sellout crowd of 3,086 and a few marquee guests on Saturday night at Swope Soccer Village.
“We needed the three points first and foremost and winning it the way we did will set a good tone for us in this four-game stretch at home and hopefully we can get some more points,” FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Lauren Holiday warmed up with the team, but was sidelined because of left sacral iliac instability. She missed the previous day’s practice ecause of the hip injury and was listed as doubtful on the NWSL injury report.
Her husband, Jrue Holiday of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, watched on from a spot behind the goal.
“Not having (Holiday) made our job a little bit harder, but at this time there is nothing we can do,” Andonovski said. “We knew that we would have to work harder to outwork the opponent and at the end of the day, it’s who will play with the right mentality.”
Western New York was similarly disadvantaged, playing without World Cup Champion Sydney Leroux. She had season-ending surgery on her ankle but was supported by her husband, Dom Dwyer of Sporting Kansas City.
The two teams battled through most of a scoreless first half before defender Leigh Ann Robinson broke through with a goal in the 38th minute. Streaking down the right side, she received a pass from Mandy Laddish in rhythm and buried it into the right side of the field for her first goal of the season.
FC Kansas City did not look back in the second half.
Erika Tymrak drew a foul from Western New York’s Jasmyne Spencer in the 69th, earning a free kick outside the 18 yard line. Yael Averbuch stepped up to the line, chipped it over a wall of defenders and into the top right corner of the net for her second free kick goal of the season.
Heather O’Reilly tacked on another goal in the 84th minute with an assist from fellow national team member Amy Rodriguez and Jen Buczkowski scored in the 87th minute for the club’s first four-goal game of the season. Previously, the team scored three goals twice.
FC Kansas City entered the game ranked third to last with just 19 goals in 15 games and third for goals allowed with 18 in the same time. Western New York, on the other hand, was ranked third offensively with 20 goals scored in 15 games.
With the victory, FC Kansas City jumped to fourth place in the National Women’s Soccer League with a 6-6-4 record. The top four teams will advance to the playoffs in September.
FC Kansas City will continue a four-game homestand on at 7 p.m. on Wednesday against the Portland Thorns.