Houston took advantage of its scoring opportunities. FC Kansas City didn’t.
FCKC failed to capitalize on a dominant first half and then yielded two second-half goals less than a minute apart during a 2-1 loss to the Houston Dash on Saturday at Swope Park Soccer Village.
“The first half we had so many opportunities we didn’t put away,” FCKC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “In the second half there was a period where, I don’t know if we lost our focus, but we made a couple of mistakes that cost us two goals. And when you play teams like Houston that has the power up front to score goals, they’ll punish you.”
After FCKC largely ruled possession and dictated play the first 45 minutes, in which it outshot the Dash 9-4, Houston was the aggressor for the first 35 minutes of the second half.
The Dash took advantage of sloppy clearing by FCKC to get on the board in the 69th minute when Denise O’Sullivan finished a pass from Chioma Ubogagu, who won a loose ball in the box.
Ubogagu scored seconds later when she finished a pass across the box from Rachel Daly, who made a great run up the left side of the field.
FCKC didn’t record a shot in the second half until the 82nd minute on a free kick. It regained its first-half form the final 10 minutes, keeping the ball in the Houston half of the field the majority of the time.
“In the second half they started out with a little more possession and that threw us for a little bit of a curve,” said forward Mandy Laddish, who is from Lee’s Summit. “We weren’t really keeping the ball, and we weren’t winning the ball on defense like we did the first half. In the second half I think they knew we were looking for those gaps and they closed them a little quicker than before.”
FCKC’s goal came in the 86th minute on a penalty kick by Yael Averbuch following a Houston handball.
Even in the loss, FCKC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart made the play of the game, intentionally using her face to make a block well outside of her box in the 30th minute.
Playing well off her line nearly a third of the way up the field, Barnhart found herself in a precarious position when Houston regained possession following a poor clear by FCKC.
Faced with a choice of retreating or being the aggressor, Barnhart attacked Houston’s Rachel Daly, then jumped to her left when Daly tried to loft a shot by her. She used her face to deflect the ball harmlessly away.
“Barnhart will come up with big saves for us,” Andonovski said. “We don’t want to put her in a situation to make those saves, but if she has to she is there to do it.”
Laddish had two brilliant shots blocked by diving Houston goalie Lydia Williams in the first half, with another going just wide of the post.
“Coach has been pushing me to go forward, so I wanted to take shots today,” Laddish said. “You take shots, hope for the best and their goalkeeper made some great saves. You have to give credit to her.”