FC Kansas City may have run out of time on its season, but Saturday was a different story, with the Blues scoring a late-game goal for a 2-1 road win over the Orlando Pride and the franchise’s second-ever comeback victory.
In the 83rd minute, Brittany Taylor’s legs got taken out from under her in the box, and the official awarded a penalty kick. FCKC’s trusty veteran, Heather O’Reilly, lined up at the spot, and knocked her shot into the top left corner for the 2-1 lead and the win, after trailing 1-0 at the half.
FCKC had never had a comeback victory in its franchise history, until earlier this month against Sky Blue FC. But after Saturday’s win, Kansas City has two comebacks just this season.
“There were things that obviously didn’t go well for us, but we were able to change the mentality and be able to change the game around,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “I told them right after the game how happy and proud I am, but I also told them that we didn’t fail this season; we just ran out of time.”
Kansas City’s offense got started in the same place it has all season, with forward Shea Groom attacking.
On a counterattack early in the second half, Groom launched a shot from the near post, inspiring a diving save from Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. But when Harris punched the ball out, it fell right onto the feet of Tiffany McCarty, positioned for a simple, center-of-the-net shot. McCarty easily smashed the rebound past a scrambling Harris, for her second goal of the year, and the 1-1 tie in the 47th minute.
Saturday’s was a game not unlike the rest of FCKC’s season: an offense that figured things out later rather than sooner, combined with a solid defense that faltered with set pieces.
The Blues only managed one shot in the first half, stifled by an Orlando team keeping a tight hold on possession. They found themselves down early, unable to keep up with the chances Orlando was creating.
A free kick in the 16th minute yielded the first half’s only goal. Orlando’s Kristen Edmonds took the initial free kick, from well outside the box, and the shot was easily cleared. But the rebound boomeranged straight to Jasmyne Spencer, who unleashed a screamer into the top corner of the net, giving Orlando the early 1-0 lead.
With the tie, FCKC — after two straight years of National Women’s Soccer League championships — concluded its season at 7-8-5. The National Women’s Soccer League postseason will begin next month without Kansas City for the first time in league history.
“Four games ago, when we knew we didn’t have a chance at the playoffs, we said we’re starting the 2017 season,” Andonovski said. “I think we played the last four games with an unbelievable mentality and focus. … Now looking at it, we were a couple goals away from making the playoffs, so the girls are leaving this season hungry to get back for the next year.”
FC KANSAS CITY 2, PRIDE 1
KANSAS CITY: Nicole Barnhart, Shea Groom, Lo’eau LaBonta, Tiffany McCarty (Caroline Kastor, 60th minute), Yael Averbuch, Heather O’Reilly (Brianne Reed, 90+3th), Desiree Scott, Alex Arlitt, Katie Bowen (Frances Silva, 60th), Becky Sauerbrunn, Brittany Taylor.
ORLANDO: Ashlyn Harris, Lisa De Vanna, Alex Morgan, Jasmyne Spencer, Kristen Edmonds, Becky Edwards (Maddy Evans, 73rd minute), Kaylyn Kyle (Sarah Hagen, 78th), Danielle Weatherholt, Laura Alleway (Toni Pressley, 69th), Monica Hickman Alves, Cami Levin.
Kansas City: 2, Tiffany McCarty, 47th minute. Heather O'Reilly (penalty kick), 84th minute. Orlando: 1, Jasmyne Spencer, 16th minute.
Shots on goal
Kansas City: Alex Arlit, 80th minute. Frances Silva (reckless foul), 90+1st minute.
Kansas City: None.
Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva.
Assistant referee: Ben Wooten.
Assistant referee: Maggie Short.
4th official: Jon Freemon.
Announced attendance: 2,XXX.