The first blunder materialized before the season officially began.
Thirty minutes prior to opening its National Women’s Soccer League title defense Saturday night, FC Kansas City took part in a championship ring ceremony on the Children’s Mercy Park field.
And therein lied the gaffe. The engraving on the rings included a typo — “NSWL” champions rather than NWSL.
The game had its blips, too.
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Western New York spoiled FC Kansas City’s back-to-back championship celebration with a 1-0 win in front of 8,022 fans inside the home of Sporting Kansas City.
“I didn’t have a chance to enjoy (the ring) yet, and I don’t think I’ll enjoy it after the game tonight (anyway),” FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “I guess we’ll get another one.”
Samantha Mewis scored the only goal of the match on a penalty kick in the 71st minute. It was awarded to Western New York after FC Kansas City Becky Sauerbrunn committed a handball in the penalty box.
FC Kansas City had a chance to respond in the same fashion, but Heather O’Reilly clanked her penalty kick off the left post.
“I’m disappointed to give up the handball in the box,” Sauerbrunn said. “I feel like I let my team down, so I apologize to them for that.”
In the end, the greater issue was on the other end of the field, where FC Kansas City couldn’t muster the offense to respond — an offseason worry after the club endured a host of changes.
The Blues lost a handful of players from their two-time championship team, most notably midfielder Lauren Holiday and forward Amy Rodriguez, a pair of U.S. women’s national team members. Holiday retired after last season, and Rodriguez is pregnant and will miss the season. Outside defender Leigh Ann Robinson, a three-year starter, also retired.
FCKC put six shots on goal Saturday — including five after halftime — but Sabrina D’Angelo posted a relatively workmanlike shutout.
FC Kansas City dropped to 0-2-2 in season openers.
“It seems like we can’t get over that curse of getting a not-positive result in the first game,” Andonovski said. “I don’t think we played our best game. I don’t think we were dangerous enough.
“Obviously we had a great opportunity to score in the last second of the game, but that’s soccer.”
FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart did her best to maintain her clean sheet in the opening half, playing behind a new formation that lined up only three defenders on the back line. In a nine-second sequence in the 42nd minute, she stopped point-blank attempts from Lynn Williams and Adriana Leon.
FCKC operated within its offensive half of the field in the majority of the second half, but O’Reilly’s penalty kick was its only quality opportunity on net.
FC Kansas City will migrate back to its regular home venue Saturday, when it plays host to Portland at 7:30 p.m.
“Maybe we should’ve taken care of the ball a little better at times, but it’s a typical first match,” Sauerbrunn said. “We’re trying some things tactically. We saw glimpses of some really good soccer. Now we just have to make it more consistent.”