Though Lauren Holiday’s return to game action was not guaranteed prior to Saturday night, it was certainly a commanding performance for FC Kansas City.
Holiday, a member of the U.S. Women’s World Cup championship team, was listed as “probable” on the league’s injury report, but played for the first time in three games since sustaining a left sacral iliac strain (hip).
And she looked plenty healthy, contributing a goal and an assist on one of Amy Rodriguez’s goals in FC Kansas City’s 3-0 victory in front of 2,321 fans at Swope Soccer Village.
“It was good to have her back and we are very well aware of when the Cheney and A-Rod combo works, we can be successful,” Blues coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
Holiday, who is retiring at the end of the season, will be honored on Thursday before the team’s final home game. She was the 2013 National Women’s Soccer League MVP, 2014 NWSL Championship MVP, owns two Olympic gold medals and is the reigning U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year.
The victory proved to be a big one, helping the Blues extend a four-game unbeaten streak and move into a tie for second place in the NWSL standings. The Blues have two more regular-season games to secure one of the top four spots and advance to the playoffs.
“It seems like everything is going out way,” Andonovski said. “We are a team that needs a rhythm and a team that needs to play games together. With our national-team players gone for such a long time, it took us off rhythm, but after a few games together it seems like everything is working right.”
The evening started congenially with a short ceremony to recognize former Blues Kassey Kallman and Morgan Marlborough of the Breakers and present them with their 2014 championship rings.
However, the friendliness ended there.
FC Kansas City came out aggressively, tallying two shots in the first four minutes. Heather O’Reilly’s shot in the first minute forced one of two saves from Boston goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who collected Erika Tymrak’s as well.
Between those two, Amy Rodriguez found the back of the net, but was called offsides. She made up for it in the 29th minute off a cross from Leigh Ann Robinson.
The Blues kept up the pace for the remainder of the half outshooting the Breakers 10-2 with four shots on goal.
Holiday started the attack in the second half when she fired a shot from the right side in the 50th minute and then assisted moments later on Rodriguez’ 52nd minute goal. Rodriguez jumped into a tie for the team lead with four goals.
It was the third consecutive shutout for the Blues, who have outscored opponents 10-0 in that time. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart leads the NWSL with seven shutouts on the season and the team has nine. The defense allowed just four Boston shots while the offense tallied 23.
With the victory, FC Kansas City tied the second-place Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars in point total, but the Blues have played one more game. The Blues are now 8-6-4 with 28 points.
First-place Seattle Reign FC has 36 points and an 11-3-3 record.