At least for now, FC Kansas City’s playoff hopes are alive.
With anything but a win Sunday against Sky Blue FC, the team would have been mathematically eliminated from National Women’s Soccer League playoff contention. But Yael Averbuch’s free-kick goal in the 85th minute gave FCKC a 2-1 victory, maintaining its postseason hopes at least for a little while longer.
Averbuch, whose three goals this season are all off set pieces, lined up the ball about 35 yards out, with seconds ticking down on the Blues’ season. She stepped back, paused several seconds and then unleashed a rocket of a kick into the top right corner of the goal.
“It’s been a little while,” Averbuch said. “I work on them very often in training so it’s like the moment I’m waiting for in the game. I haven’t really scored a good one this season, so I was very happy after the ball left my foot. … Usually with free kicks you realize pretty quickly, ‘oh wow, that was really terrible,’ or ‘that was pretty good.’ ”
This one was good, and Averbuch’s teammates swarmed her in the midfield. The victory was the team’s first since before the Olympic break.
Sky Blue got on the board first with a 40th-minute goal by Sam Kerr, who bent the ball into the corner of the net, barely arching it around Nicole Barnhart’s left hand.
FCKC’s comeback win started with the equalizer: In first-half stoppage time, Heather O’Reilly threaded the ball through the legs of a defender, landing it at the feet of Tiffany McCarty just outside the penalty area. McCarty took a second to shuffle the ball between her feet and fire a right-footed shot past Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Caroline Stanley. It was McCarty’s first goal of the year.
Although FCKC got the win, it did temporarily lose midfielder Erika Tymrak, who went down in the 61st minute after getting her legs tangled with defenders in the box. She appeared to grab her left ankle, and was carried off the field by Shea Groom and a team trainer. After the game, Tymrak was on crutches with her ankle wrapped, but the extent of her injury was unknown.
Even with the win, FCKC could still have to rely on other teams to make it into the playoffs. But for now, it enjoyed the spoils of being the first team in franchise history to come back from a deficit for a victory, this time in front of 2,414 at Swope Soccer Village.
The team advanced to 5-8-4 this season.
“I know looking from outside, it may look like it’s not important but for us, it is,” FCKC coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “We take pride in defending, so when we get scored on, we’re getting a little too down. … After we get scored on, it’s like the end of the world for us. Hopefully this will be the beginning of something new.”