Just when it looked as if FC Kansas City would play to a draw, Sky Blue FC converted a corner kick for a goal in the 83rd minute of Sunday’s game at Yurcak Field in Piscataway Township, N.J., sealing a second consecutive 1-0 loss for FCKC.
Kelley O’Hara’s corner kick found Mandy Freeman on the opposite side of the box. With FCKC’s Sydney Leroux attempting to block, Freeman squibbled the ball over to Raquel Rodriguez for the only goal of the game.
FCKC almost scored the equalizer minutes later. Defender Christina Gibbons found space to take a long shot in the 88th minute, clearing Chicago’s defense on the way to the goal box. As the ball soared into the back of the net, however, referees called offside on Brittany Ratcliffe.
After the game, FCKC coach Vlatko Andonovski was upset that the game-winning corner was even awarded. McKenzie Meehan’s left-footed shot in the previous play went straight for the post, where FCKC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart was guarding the left side. She stopped the ball with one hand but it bounced to her other hand on the way to the ground just outside the goal line.
The call on Ratcliffe, though, troubled Andonovski so much he couldn’t voice his frustration.
“I don’t think we just lost because we made a mistake. I think it was the referees who made a mistake, but I’m not going to go into it,” Andonovski said on the phone from New Jersey. “ … We scored and they called it offside. From everything that I hear — I haven’t seen it myself —but enough people called me and texted me to let me know that it was not offside.”
Gibbons’ attempt aside, the biggest issue plaguing FC Kansas City for the second game in a row was its inability to get the ball out front. While the backline has continued its unwavering defense, only allowing seven shots (three on goal), the ball isn’t making it into the offensive third.
Options to distribute the ball are more limited than the club had expected. Just when FCKC was getting used to playing without Amy Rodriguez, who suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear on opening day, fellow forward Shea Groom was diagnosed with a broken rib after the second game of the season.
The Blues had to adjust their strategy for game three, and their approach fell flat. Kansas City only made nine shots, three on target.
Leroux only got a few chances to score, the earliest on a chip in the 7th minute from Katie Bowen that was set up right in front of Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Leroux had no room to muster more than a tap of the ball.
Later, Leroux had a perfect chance to head a Becky Sauerbrunn cross that came from well outside the box in the 87th minute. The kick soared into the goal box and Leroux, eager to tie the score, sneaked in front of the defense to jump for the ball. She was caught offside for the second time in the match.
“It was unfortunate that we lost the game. I don’t think we deserved to lose this game,” Andonovski said. “I think the players played incredibly hard and disciplined and put lots of effort creating some good opportunities. Defensively we did extremely well, didn’t allow them to create any opportunities. But we’re just unfortunate to get scored on the way we did.”
FC Kansas City (1-2-0) returns home May 7 for a 5 p.m. match against the Orlando Pride (0-2-1).
Sky Blue FC 1, FC Kansas City 0
FC Kansas City
FC KANSAS CITY: Nicole Barnhart; Christina Gibbons, Yael Averbuch, Becky Sauerbrunn, Brittany Taylor; Desiree Scott, Lo’aeu LaBonta, Brittany Ratcliffe (Erika Tymrak, 89th), Maegan Kelly (Alexa Newfield, 81st), Katie Bowen (Caroline Flynn, 64th); Sydney Leroux.
SKY BLUE: Kailen Sheridan; Erin Simon, Erica Skroski, Mandy Freeman, Kayla Mills; Sarah Killion, Maya Hayes (Madison Tiernan, 70th), Raquel Rodriguez, Taylor Lytle (Leah Galton, 66th), Daphne Corboz (McKenzie Meehan, 80th); Kelly O’Hara.
SKY BLUE FC: Rodriguez (Freeman), 83rd minute.
Shots on goal
Sky Blue FC: Rodriguez (foul), 73rd; Tiernan (foul), 91st.