FC Kansas City went into Saturday’s game with the simple yet important goal of not falling behind.
It had been a problem of late for the defending National Women’s Soccer League champions who had tied or lost three straight games and trailed in each.
“We have been playing from behind and we know that if we get up, especially at home, we can be dangerous,” Blues coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
They proved his theory with a dominant 4-0 victory Saturday against the Western New York Flash to take over fourth place in the league standings. It was the team’s seventh shutout of the season and highest-scoring performance on offense to bounce them back into contention for a playoff spot.
However, the Blues will have to defend their newfound position at 7 p.m. Wednesday against the fifth-place Portland Thorns FC at Swope Soccer Village. It is the second of four home games to effectively end the regular season, which officially finishes against Sky Blue FC on Sept. 6. The top four teams advance to the postseason.
“The schedule works in our favor, and at the end of the day, everything is in our hands,” Andonovski said. “We have to get the job done.”
The Blues and Thorns enter the game with identical 6-6-4 records, but Kansas City takes the edge on goal differential. The Blues are tied for second in the league with only 18 goals allowed and have scored 23 in 16 games. Portland has 19 and 22.
On paper, their previous meeting was expectedly even as well, ending in a 1-1 tie at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. In reality, Portland needed a stoppage time goal from goalkeeper Michelle Betos to secure the draw.
The Blues lost the next game but earned points in five of the next six games to climb back into playoff contention. Portland has three straight victories and is averaging three goals per match in that time.
FC Kansas City will be collecting used cellphones at each entrance to donate to domestic violence shelters through Verizon’s HopeLine program. Participants will receive raffle tickets for a chance to win prizes that include a team-signed soccer ball.