FC Kansas City finally break through and double their goal scoring total on the year to defeat the Orlando Pride at Swope Soccer Village.
Attitude reflects leadership, and when you put on the captains armband the 10 other players on the field look to you for leadership. Saturday night at Swope Soccer Village this years NWSL leader in saves Nicole Barnhart would give that leadership for FC Kansas City. The Blues are without Becky Sauerbrunn and Heather O’Reilly due to National Team duty.
Joining them from Saturday nights opponent the Orlando Pride would be Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris. Two of the players looking to Nicole Barnhart for that leadership were Tiffany McCarty and Alexa Newfield as they were making their first NWSL starts.
It would be the Orlando Pride coming off a 1-0 road victory over Houston last week that would apply the pressure early offensively. Nicole Barnhart would be tested on a shot in the fifth minute coming from her left going to her right across the mouth of the goal that just missed the runner to the back post.
Just two minutes later she would be tested again this time the shot would come from straight on as a through ball would split the FC Kansas City defense but again the captain Nicole Barnhart was able to make the save. The visiting Orlando Pride would get a third opportunity at goal in the opening ten minutes on a corner kick but were not able to produce a shot on goal.
In the 21st minute Orlando Pride would be forced into a substitution when Sarah Hagen (formerly of FC Kansas City) would leave the match and be replaced by Christian Birkenroad. The change did not seem to affect the Pride attack as they would continue to test the USWNT veteran in the pipes for FC Kansas City Nicole Barnhart. Just before the stroke of half an hour it was Barnhart again keeping FC Kansas City in the match with two big saves on shots going from left to right just like the first shot of the game.
In the 27th minute the shot would come from inside the 18 yard box but Barnhart would make the one-handed stop with her right glove keeping the visitors off the scoreboard. Two minutes later on a free kick from the Orlando Pride it was Nicole Barnhart again tracking the ball that started from her left moving to her right going into the air and making a two-handed catch to secure possession and make the save.
It wasn’t all Nicole Barnhart for the Blues on this night as they would find the back of the net twice in the second half to secure their first win on the season. The first goal on the night would be the second of the year for Yael Averbuch which came on a free kick (her previous goal was a penalty kick). Earning the free kick for FC Kansas City was Erika Tymrak beating her defender one on one and being pulled to the turf as she went past.
The kick was a good 30 yards from goal but Yael Averbuch confidently struck the ball into the wall of Orlando City defenders and it would ricochet past Orlando Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. This goal similar to the one FC Kansas City gave up last week at Boston was mix of luck and skill, but they all count the same and the Blues would lead 1-0 just eight minutes into the second half.
That would not be the last the Orlando Pride heard from Erika Tymrak on the night as just six minutes later she would fire a shot that Bledsoe saved. After the goal each side would make a substitution but it would be Tymrak again that would change the game and this time for good. Having received a pass from the outside, Tymrak would again go at her defender getting the step she needed to fire an open shot towards the goalies lower left corner and across the line for a 2-0 FC Kansas City lead.
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The final 13 minutes of regulation and 3 minutes of stoppage time would see another substitution and a caution but when the final whistle blew it would be FC Kansas City earning their first win of the season. [Editor: Am I the only one who thought that yellow card given to Orlando late should have been red? It was a clear denial of a goal scoring opportunity. Thankfully it didn’t matter.]
While there is still a long way to go and only four teams will make the playoffs you have to feel like this team is heading in the right direction. Looking at the results so far this year deserved or otherwise it is not hard to argue that given a made PK (or two) a bit better communication on a corner kick, and if not for a NWSL Save of the Week this team could be sitting on eight to eleven points. One thing is for sure the attitude of this team is calm, confident, and absolutely reflects it’s leadership.
FC Kansas City: Barnhart, Bowen, Averbuch, Taylor, Arlitt, Scott, Laddish, Newfield, Tymrak, McCarty, Groom
Orlando Pride: Bledsoe, Catley, Pressley, Monica, Belanger, Edwards, Sanderson, Evans, Spencer, Hagen, Witteman
FC Kansas City:
74′ Out McCarty In Kastor
81′ Out Newfield In LaBonta
88′ Out Laddish In Silva
21′ Out Hagen In Burkenroad
64′ Out Sanderson In Fields
70′ Out Edwards In Kyle
Kansas City: 13
Shots On Goal:
Kansas City: 6
Kansas City: 4
Kansas City: 2
Kansas City: 7
Kansas City: 1
Kansas City: 79′ Desiree Scott
Orlando: 88′ Josee Belanger
Referee: Margaret Domka
Assistant Referee 1: Tom Felice
Assistant Referee 2: Hayden Oscanoa
Fourth Official: Jon Freemon