Lying on the soccer pitch, FC Kansas City forward Shea Groom suddenly found her face pushed into the ground.
Following an aggressive run through the box on a corner kick early in the first half Saturday, Groom lay on the field after a missed header. But before she could get up, Groom’s vision consisted only of the Swope Soccer Village grass as Seattle’s Merritt Mathias shoved her face into the ground while expressing some niceties, apparently taking exception to her run.
“We both went up for the ball, and I really don’t know what happened after that, but obviously it’s inappropriate and it’s not part of the game,” said Groom, who grew up in Liberty. “I somehow find myself in the middle of those situations. I credit it to the fact that I play hard and am disruptive, and some players don’t like it. Obviously, it was a little shocking.”
While the officiating crew missed the incident — and the subsequent shoving between Mathias and FCKC’s Brittany Taylor, who took issue with Mathias’ dirty play — it seemed to inspire the Blues the rest of the match.
FCKC played emboldened soccer and produced solid scoring chances, many from Groom, but Reign goalkeeper Hope Solo denied all the Blues chances and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
“We were definitely close enough with some scoring chances to win this game and we definitely deserved to win this game with how well we played,” FCKC coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “But getting a tie is still good because it keeps our unbeaten streak alive.”
FCKC’s best scoring opportunity came in the first half when Groom and Heather O’Reilly had a two-on-one break. O’Reilly ended up with a one-on-one with Solo, but Solo — who also plays goalie for the United States Women's National Team — forced her into a difficult shot that ended in the side of the net.
FCKC had a 13-6 advantage in corner kicks and played the final six minutes of the game with a player advantage following a red card given to Seattle’s Carson Pickett, but it still couldn’t put anything past Solo.
The Blues, 2-4-4, have a four-game unbeaten streak heading into Saturday’s game at Washington.
“One thing that makes me very happy is the only goal we’ve given up during this four-game streak is a penalty kick,” Andonovski said. “We’re strong in the back, defend well as a team and now we just have to be more clinical in and around the box and put these games away.”
FCKC goes on the road for four of its next five games. It returns home July 16 against Washington.