A capacity crowd packed Swope Soccer Village Monday night for a glimpse at seven newly minted FIFA Women’s World Cup champions.
Unsurprisingly, the group of U.S. Women’s National Team players returned the favor with a high-intensity 1-1 draw that included a Houston goal from World Cup Golden Ball recipient Carli Lloyd.
Four of the six remaining players, Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly were playing for the home team, and Meghan Klingenberg and Morgan Brian suited up for the Dash. The game was rescheduled from Wednesday to accommodate their schedules and served as their return to the National Women’s Soccer League.
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The festivities started with a giant flag being unfurled in the East stands and quickly progressed into a neighborly display of appreciation from the city and its leaders.
Jackson County executive Mike Sanders presented each Women’s World Cup champion with a ball that said “We Believe,” and Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo of the Fifth District gave each player a challenge medal.
The attendance was announced at 3,557, which was a record for Swope Soccer Village. The previous mark was set in the Swope home opener with 2,466 fans for the a NWSL championship game rematch against the Seattle Reign FC. The season-high was 8,489 at Sporting Park.
Fans also turned out in force online for the Youtube feed that had more than 4,000 viewers midway through the second half.
The two squads battled through most of a scoreless first half before Lloyd put the Dash on the board. She chipped a free kick over a wall of FC Kansas City players, off the right post and under a diving Nicole Barnhart in the 45th minute. It was her second goal in four games with Houston this year.
FC Kansas City found an answer after the break with a little national team chemistry.
O’Reilly connected with Holiday for a goal in the 55th minute that ricocheted off Houston defender Toni Pressley and into the goal. It was credited as an own goal.
With the draw, FC Kansas City held on to fourth place in the NWSL, but fell to 5-5-3. Houston remains in sixth position with a 3-4-5 record. First-place Chicago is 6-1-4.
The Blues lead the season series against the Dash 1-0-1 and will meet for the third and final time at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29.
Prior to the match, FC Kansas City signed forward Caroline Kastor. The Wichita native and Kansas graduate has played 161 minutes across eight games with the Blues since being added to the roster as an amateur call up. She started the last match and played 55 minutes.