Shea Groom let out a scream, and dramatically stomped toward her FC Kansas City teammates as a crowd of 16,942 at Portland’s Providence Park stood nearly silent.
Groom had just scored her second goal of the game — her fourth of the year — and gave the Blues a 2-0 lead that would eventually turn into a 2-1 win.
Portland Thorns FC, 7-1-5, was unbeaten before FCKC joined them Saturday night at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. FC Kansas City, 3-5-4, has been lurking near the bottom of the National Women’s Soccer League standings. But the Blues came out aggressively from the beginning against the best team in the league.
Tiffany McCarty lofted a near-perfect service into the box near the goal line in the 54th minute with FCKC clinging to a 1-0 lead. Groom came sailing through the air, heading the ball into the back of the net. With that, she had doubled her scoring total this season and officially taken FC Kansas City out of its three-match scoring drought.
“I thought we created a lot more opportunities tonight,” FCKC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a phone interview after the match. “I think we’ve deserved a little more than what we’ve been getting. Our biggest problem was quality of service in the box and getting numbers in there, and after working on it for a week, it paid off.”
The second-half insurance goal wasn’t the first time McCarty and Groom connected Saturday.
For a few short seconds, FCKC’s first goal looked like just another missed chance: In the 23rd minute, Erica Tymrak’s shot hit the right post, and her team scrambled to make something of the rebound. For an FCKC team that had scored just six goals in its first 11 games this season, the scene looked all too familiar.
But this time, McCarty hustled to maintain possession after Portland failed to clear Tymrak’s miss. McCarty swiftly cut back towards the box and lofted the ball to a waiting Groom, who headed in an easy goal for a 1-0 lead.
“I thought (McCarty) brought to the game what we were missing in the last couple of games,” Andonovski said. “That penetration from the side and creating numbers going forward and providing quality service — I thought Tiffany was very good tonight.”
FC Kansas City’s two goals were the most it had scored since a 2-0 win over Orlando in May. Saturday was the only time this season Thorns FC had allowed multiple goals in a match.
Portland’s stab at a comeback came in the 76th minute, when Kat Williamson collected a rebound about a foot away from the goal line and tapped in an easy score. Thorns FC sent a free kick in stoppage time sailing over the crossbar, sealing FCKC’s third win of the season.
FC KANSAS CITY 2
KANSAS CITY: Barnhart; Bowen, Averbuch, Taylor, Reed (Menchel 79’), LaBonta, Silva, Laddish, Tymrak (Kastor 88’), McCarty (Weimer 90+), Groom.
PORTLAND: Betos; Weber, Reynolds, Menges, Berryhill (Williamson 61’, Lofton 81’), Brynjarsdottir, Boureille, Pratt (Skogerboe 57’), Shim, Raso, Nadim.
Kansas City: 1, Groom (McCarty), 23rd minute; 2, Groom (McCarty) 54th minute.
Portland: 3, Williamson (Brynjarsdottir), 76th minute.
Shots on goal
Kansas City: Brianne Reed, 51st minute. Yael Averbuch, 90th+ minute.
Portland: Nadia Nadim, 62nd minute.
Kansas City: None.
Referee: Farhad Dadkho.
Assistant referee: Christopher Elliot.
Assistant referee: Ceciah Valero.
4th official: Jason Perlewitz.
Announced attendance: 16,942.