Portland, Kansas City tie in first-ever NWSL game

Dan Lauletta April 13, 2013 113
Renae Cuellar, FC Kansas City

Renae Cuellar (right) scored the first goal in NWSL history for FC Kansas City in a 1-1 draw with Portland Thorns FC in Saturday's opener. (Photo Copyright Thad Bell for www.womens.soccerly.com | http://www.tpbphoto.com/)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — An overflow crowd of 6,784 jammed its way into Shawnee Mission High School Stadium to witness the debut match of the National Women’s Soccer League, and they were treated to everything but a win for the home side. Christine Sinclair’s second half penalty cancelled Renae Cuellar’s historic league-opening goal just three minutes into play and FC Kansas City and Portland Thorns FC finished in a 1-1 draw.

“Overall it was a great showing, not just my team, but I want to congratulate both teams,” FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Maybe 1-1 was the most realistic result.”

The hosts came out flying and took advantage of an early miscue by Thorns defender Rachel Buehler. Leigh Ann Robinson put a ball near Cuellar that Buehler should have cleared but she misplayed it, allowing the Blues preseason star to continue her goal-scoring tear.

“I turned and the ball bounced in front of me,” Cuellar said. “I saw the goalkeeper (Karina LeBlanc) and I saw that opening near post so I took it with my left foot.”

Cuellar joins Pretinha (WUSA) and Allison Falk (WPS) as debut goal scorers for women’s pro leagues. Post-match the 22-year-old was still basking in the glow of her small place in history. “It’s awesome. It’s nerve-wracking. When I scored I thought I was having a little bit of a heart attack.”

FC Kansas City remained the better side throughout the first half. Kristie Mewis frustrated the Thorns midfield with her superb technical skills and helped create the best two-way soccer moment of the night. The rookie was in among players but still managed to spit the ball out for a brilliant through ball to Casey Loyd. Thorns defender Kathryn Williamson made an energetic recovery run to thwart Loyd’s chances at a goal.

“Kristie Mewis (was) a great part of our game,” Andonovski said. “I think every game she’s going to bring more and more to the table.”

Mewis also wound up with the first yellow card handed out in NWSL.

The Thorns clearly needed to make adjustments at halftime and they came up with a formula that helped clamp down the Blues attack and gradually turned the play in their favor.

“We were very vulnerable off the counter attack,” Cindy Parlow Cone said following her first match as a head coach at any level. “We made some adjustments to their counter attack and to our attacking style as well.”

Cone also stressed that her forwards were not putting enough pressure on Kansas City’s backs. The proof that they did it better after halftime came in the 85th minute when Sinclair sprinted back across midfield to win back a ball and keep things flowing in the Thorns’ direction.

But it was the 64th minute substitution of Danielle Foxhoven that really helped kick start things. Just two minutes after she arrived in the match, Foxhoven was played into the box by Allie Long and won the penalty when she was taken down by Lauren Sesselman.

“I really don’t want to comment on the referee’s decision,” Andonovski said. “If you ask me if I think it was a penalty, no.”

Becky Sauerbrunn, who anchored an otherwise superb effort by the FC Kansas City backline, was also skeptical of the penalty call.

“I think the PK call was questionable,” said Sauerbrunn, who grew up in St Louis and had a slew of friends and family at the game. “I don’t quite think it was a PK.”

Sinclair calmly stepped to the spot and buried the penalty to her right while Barnhart went the other way.

The Thorns only continued to push the issue the rest of the way but neither team had any memorable chances to break the tie. The best came in stoppage time when Cuellar and Buehler hooked up again, this time at the end of a tricky long ball by Lauren Cheney. Buehler won this battle, and the match remained level.

Both teams are 0-0-1 (1 point) and both will be at home next weekend. FC Kansas City will host the Breakers on Friday night and the Thorns will play their much anticipated home opener a day later against Seattle Reign FC.

Box Score:

Portland Thorns FC (0-0-1, 1pts) at FC Kansas City (0-0-1, 1pts)
April 13, 2013 – Shawnee Mission District Stadium (Overland Park, Kan.)

Goals by Half              1          2          F
KC                               1          0          1
POR                            0          1          1

Scoring Summary
KC – Cuellar                                              3rd minute
POR – Sinclair (penalty kick)             67

Misconduct Summary
KC – Mewis (caution)                         43
POR – Washington (caution)              70
POR – Williamson (caution)               82

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Karina LeBlanc; D Marian Dougherty, D Rachel Buehler, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall (Emilee O’Neil, 61); M Becky Edwards, M Allie Long, M Angie Kerr (Danielle Foxhoven, 63); F Nikki Washington (Courtney Wetzel, 90), F Christine Sinclair (capt.), F Alex Morgan

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, M Meleana Shim

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Morgan, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Sinclair, 2); FOULS: 13 (Long, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2

KC: GK Nicole Barnhart; D Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), D Leigh Ann Robinson, D Lauren Sesselmann, D, Jen Buczkowski; M Casey Loyd (Courtney Jones, 72), M Merritt Mathias (Katie Kelly, 77), M Desiree Scott, M Kristie Mewis (Erika Tymrak, 81), M Lauren Cheney (capt.); F Renae Cuellar

Substitutes Not Used: GK Bianca Henninger, D Nia Williams, F Melissa Henderson

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Two players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three tied with 1); FOULS: 11 (Two players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3

Referee: Kari Seitz
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Kyle Atkins
Fourth Official: Jon Freemon
Attendance: 6,784
Weather: 64 degrees, partly cloudy

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

  • heremerawr

    I was not impressed with Portland. With all the talk of how good their midfield is, there were times when I was almost as annoyed with them as Alex and Sinclair were. And I’m not even rooting for Portland. It got better in the second half, but still… FCKC just looked so much better in my opinion. I suppose it’s just growing pains though. Hopefully for Portland fans as the team plays together more they’ll improve on the chemistry between the midfield and the forwards. Great job by KC to contain Alex and Sinclair.

    • newsouth

      portland will be great at home but by no means are they wny and gold pride of the wps, no way, even at the end of the year. morgan is a direct forward and sinclair is timed run direct forward. as long as kc kept them in front, they were contained. i’m betting wny and sbfc will be able to do the same. marta and sinclair were a more diversified attack. anyway, they keep 7000 season ticket holder happy with a winning home record, so ussoccer did its’ job.

      BAD CALL by the ref. KC deserved its’ 3 pts.

      • Steglitz49

        Maybe the ref did not want to be ranted at? Or went to the same refereeing academy as some of the refs in the last olympics?

  • vert2013

    What happened to Portlands midfield? It was like Allie Long with a few dashes of Washington. Edwards was invisible, and Kerr…well Kerr had an off night. Alex and Sinc were not happy at all.

    They’re lucky they got a draw because that PK call was pretty weak in my opinion. And I’m a Portland fan.

    • heremerawr

      Agreed about the PK. I can kinda see where the ref was coming from, as I THINK Sessleman clipped Foxhoven… but it’s really hard to tell from my angle, and Foxhoven cleating Barnie should’ve taken precedent imo.

      • vert2013

        I thought Barnie pretty much had possession before there was any contact made between Sess and Foxhoven.

        • KT5000

          I think the call was for something that the camera didn’t really catch – the defender taking Foxhoven down (from behind and involving the left arm, i think.) before she tumbled into Barnie. You could only see Foxhoven going down, but the camera didn’t catch the actual “foul”. I think Sessleman is quoted after the game saying, “I didn’t think it was a PK” which is a classic and crafty way of playing it off, because taking someone down in the box is an automatic PK. So… a foul = PK.

    • sodepressed

      I couldn’t agree more, but in ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL HONESTY. Kerr and Long and Washington did exactly what they did in WPS…….NOTHING except barely run, small touches, baby passes, bad passes, WPS proved these players won’t ever be back in a US Jersey. It really makes me pissed as a PDX Fan.

      • vert2013

        Long played alright considering she had like 0 help from the rest of the midfield. It wasn’t the best I’ve seen out of her but I’m curious to see how she would have played if she had some support.

        • sodepressed

          LOL if she had support? She’s supposed to be the support to the forwards and didn’t do her job. She’s just never been impressive enough

          I don’t think i remember seeing many forward passes from her.

    • NYRick

      I know it’s only one game, but if this is the Becky Edwards everyone has been raving about, she needs to pick up her game in a hurry. From the way people have been talking about her as a player I was hugely disappointed. She is not a national team player by any stretch from what I saw.

      • Steglitz49

        Becky Edwards is a week older than Tobin Heath. In today’s competitive environment when the manager is looking to build for the long-term, age might be against you unless you are an obvious talent like Christen Press who went and sat at the feet of a former striker and excelled at her club.

      • heremerawr

        Right? From the way some were talking up the Thorns midfield I was expecting a female Xavi or something to show up, haha.

  • Ubu-Roi

    Buzkowski is doing it again. Is she like the most underated defensive player in the world?

    • sodepressed

      LOL she is not the MOST or UNDERRATED defensive midfielder. She was a beast in 09 for Sky Blue, all coaches and players know that she’s a great player, funny that her and Bock and BOXX all similar plays went to Notre Dame.

      Plain and simple, she’s not underrated.

    • scrfan

      She deserves look at full natl team. She isn’t flashy but does all dirty work. Spectators dont notice when she’s there but they’d notice if she weren’t. Great pro.

      • Steglitz49

        Is it known why Jen never played for the senior USAWNT? Whom would she have replaced in 2011 and 2012?

  • CenCal Sports Guy

    FCKC seemed the much better team on the night so the draw is more favorable for the Thorns. The Blues’ balance at times kicked circles around PTFC who’s focus going into the next game needs to be service into Sinclair/Morgan.

    On a more league-wide note, the crowd was incredibly heartening for the NWSL’s viability. The fact that the large crowd seemed to attend for the team rather than for any big name and seemed knowledgeable about the game (cheering and booing in support or derision of calls or plays) is a great start to the season. The league is growing trees from small seeds and while it will take awhile, it’s great to see it start so well.

    • NYRick

      “…large crowd seemed to attend for the team rather than for any big name.”

      Just in case you didn’t notice, Alex Morgan was in the building.

      • Loudest cheer of the evening was when Katie Kelly entered the game – hometown player. Blue Crew supporters section was full and loud. Fans have been showing for trainings and exhibition matches. Lots of blue gear.

        They already know PTFC are the Yankees of NWSL – they’re the team you REALLY want to beat.

        • newsouth

          if you had listen to the commentators, some of missy geha’s club girls were calling her name. two hometown heros on the team. that was a mission statement of the league, so they need to keep it up over all franchises.

      • CenCal Sports Guy

        Indeed I did notice, but my point was that the crowd was there to cheer on FC Kansas City not an incoming big name like Alex Morgan. That kind of team first crowd support is what the league needs, not just casual fans who want to see the superstars.

        • NYRick

          Yes, I agree with you. Great job by the KC area for the support. But AM will always have something to do with the crowd attendance at any match she plays in, and most likely sell it out. My point is that they may get 4.5-5k for this match, not 6.7 (500 overflow) without her. Although first match in the league for KC they may have just sold this one completely out no matter who they played or what star was there.

          • CenCal Sports Guy

            Good point in regards to those fans who did come simply for Morgan or will come for say Wambach or a returning Rapinoe. Hopefully those casual fans are so impressed by the soccer and the game experience they return in numbers. That’s the job of these teams.

  • sol1711

    6784 spectators which is very little, if the size of the usa

    • heremerawr

      Are you joking? The stadium was over max capacity by about 500 people! A fantastic showing for the opening game. Add the people watching the livestream, roughly 6,500, and you have over 12000 people watching the game live.

    • heremerawr

      Are you joking? The stadium was over max capacity by about 500 people! A fantastic showing for the opening game. Add the people watching the livestream, roughly 6,500, and you have over 12000 people watching the game live.

      • sol1711

        6784 is too little for usa

        • Steglitz49

          In principle I agree with Sol but an attendance of 6,784 is a lot higher than the averages for European teams last season (please see other comment). I think where Sol comes from is that
          — KC has a population of 450k in the city and 2m in the metro area, and
          — this was the very first game of a new league where the visitors brought several of the world’s biggest names.

          12,000 people watching in the stadium and on livestream does not cut the mustard when last night 21,923 people attended Lyon in the first leg of the CL semi-final. Lyon has 480k in the city and 2,1m in the metro area, the same as KC.

          Does this mean that Schelin, Necib and Thiney pull in more punters than Morgan, Sinclair and Sauerbrunn? No, but it shows the value of Cup-competitions and having the guts to move the match to the big stadium.

          • It doesn’t help that in an effort to keep costs down a bunch of low profile cities got teams before high profile cities. Kansas City getting a team before LA?

            Just about any team getting teams before Montreal, Salt Lake, Vancouver and Houston?

            The only one that might make sense is Rochester getting a team before Toronto (because Toronto has never been out draw Rochester while in the same league).

          • TsovLoj

            Oh, so you’re one of those mad coasties? As a Midwesterner (MN) I see little reason the interior of the country should be ignored, and without a geographic partner there’s little sense in an LA team.

          • No. I live in Rochester with the most serious and determined owner in the league. From a local perspective I have nothing to be mad about.

            And I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense. I’m just saying a lot of cities that have proven abilities to draw soccer fans got left out. I know what those reasons are and I’m not going to get upset when a team draws 6k+ fans to a woman’s league game. That number is astounding. It’s sad that it’s astounding, but the NWSL on day one is headed in the right direction.

            20,000 fans a game? That will come later, but to get to those numbers we probably need some of the cities with massive populations that in the first year don’t make geographic sense.

            HOWEVER… Why can’t there be a NYC team? Are you telling me the Spirit, Sky Blue, the Breakers and to some extent the Flash can’t support a team in NYC? If anything that would be the best geographic setup in the country. Meanwhile Portland and Seattle could use some serious support on the west coast from LA, and LA could probably support two teams.

            Why are these obvious cities not getting teams? Because the NWSL can’t find owners willing to support a team.

            The sad fact is the NWSL is going to be a charity in the first couple years. Future owners should be heavily punished (or current owners heavily compensated) with large expansion fees in the future.

          • Steglitz49

            Judging by Europe and Japan, ladies’ football will always need to be subsidized. Here the USA has a chance to break new ground. If they can show that women’s soccer can be played in a solvent way, they will have reached the marketer’s Shangri-La.

            The players, their relatives and friends, must persuade women aged 20-35 to come along and sit in the stands. They can do what they like in the stands: use their iPads or cell-phones or whatever takes their fancy and floats their boats. Bums on seats is the best (possibly only) way to get sponsors.

            Persuade a company to own a team?

          • A company DOES own a team. Two companies owned teams last year.

            Honestly a decent argument could be made that the Portland Timbers are a company that owns the Thorns.

            Although I suppose Red Bull could field a team in womans team NYC.

          • Steglitz49

            Red Bull runs a F1 team and sponsors various winter sports persons not least in the ski-events.

            I was thinking more in terms of the American equivalents to Bayer, Philips or VW. Estée Lauder, Sarah Lee or Avon, perhaps?

          • I know of only one company in the US with sports teams. Red Bull.

            Disney used to own the Anaheim Ducks.

            I think there is one other team owned by a major company, but I don’t know which.

            Do major companies own teams in Europe?

          • Steglitz49

            There are two teams that are allowed to have company names in their names: Bayer Leverkusen and PSV Eindhoven. This is because the companies started the sports clubs for the benefit of their workers. Wolfsburg is financed by VW — the CEO of VW is the chairman of the club. Hoffenheim is essentially owned by the software billionair Hopp.

            Bayer sponsors all sorts of sports. Bayer sponsored athletes have brought home tons of olympic medals.

            Ownership rules vary in Europe. Most countries have a rule that 51% of the club must be owned by the members, though this can be circumvented. Britain is unusual in having few restrictions and the Premier league is a veritable foreign legion.

          • Greg_G

            This issue has been explored ad nauseum in soccer circles. Large cities like LA and NYC are very expensive to set up shop in. That’s why a small, inexpensive league like NWSL did not place teams there. The LA Sol folded because they were spending way too much money, more than what they could bring in based on their attendance and merchandise/ad revenue figures. You might get a decent attendance boost by putting a team within the borders of NYC, but you’d also be paying out the butt for advertising, rent, and a host of other costs – not to mention fighting against all the attention that the Knicks, Nets, Giants, Jets, Mets, Yankees, and RedBulls get. And we won’t even discuss the travel costs of a team way out in LA with the current league geographical set up. The league is trying to be sustainable, and large cities haven’t been (even Boston was on the brink of collapse before they were “saved” at the last moment in WPS).

          • Steglitz49

            Women’s soccer is a game of middle-class suburbia. It needs to expand into the poorer areas.

          • Steglitz49

            For the NWSL to succeed regionalized feeder-leagues are a must, not just for the obvious reason of travel but also to satisfy the demand. Therefore, NWSL teams in the mid-west are a must.

            Americans are not used to the soccer system of promotion and relegation but what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. It is certainly worth testing.

            I would also like to see a North-American CL to which each season two or three teams qualify from their regional leagues based on their performance the previous season. A sort of giant play-off if you like.

          • The men’s minor league teams don’t even deal with regulation in the US and there are multiple leagues inside the same system. The owners don’t want regulation, and the fans don’t care.

            The United States is far too big for regulation. Look at this – http://goeurope.about.com/od/europeanmaps/l/bl-country-size-comparison-map.htm But we are not talking about regulation in Europe. We are talking about regulation in a single country in Europe.

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe the franchise model does not work for women’s soccer?

          • I assume you mean “relegation”.

          • Would you please stop trying to insist cup competitions matter in the US? They don’t period.

          • Steglitz49

            Football did not use to matter in USA till Pete Rozelle came along.

            Soccer does not matter in USA 18 years after the men’s world cup was played in USA and the American ladies are consistently one of the top 3 teams in the world.

            Maybe football played with ones feet would matter in the USA id they took on how soccer is played around the world? High time to break new ground — or sink.

          • I agree that we need to shake things up, but an open cup competition won’t be anything special here. The men’s version generates almost no interest until the final.

          • Steglitz49

            To be fair, people only get excited about the FA cup in the rounds after Christmas.

        • Of course, everyone in the US is within driving distance of KC.

    • Most stadiums are in the 3,000-4,500 range at full capacity Portland and Kansas City have a couple of the biggest. Portland will probably have around 10k opening day for them just opening up the lower bowl. Not as awesome as Lyon today, but for a regular season game that is better than good.

    • vert2013

      they were well over capacity and they’re the 3rd biggest stadium in the league behind pdx and wny. Portland is expecting 14k for their game next week though but they have a lot of advantages being in Portland.

    • It’s good. The next size up venue in KC would be Sporting Park – 18,000 but cost prohibitive and considerably farther to the west of the city. There are seating equivalent grass high school soccer pitches – but again farther out, stands on one side, and no close resteraunts – current location has numerous eateries within walking distance. So trade offs are made.
      The current location is in an area that is soccer nuts – you can’t build enough pitches.
      After a time of success, I imagine FCKC will move to nicer venue. But don’t put the cart before the horse.

  • Kernel Thai

    1. I had forgotten how annoying footbal lines r on a soccer field.
    2. Ironic that a Mexican and a Canadian score the first two goals in the new American league.
    3. KC defense did a real nice job.
    4. Two most interesting players I saw were Cuellar and Tymrak.
    5. Nice to Sermanni earning his money.

    • sodepressed

      LMAO. Such a good observation on #2. Technically Renae is just the usual So Cal Mex-American.

      • Steglitz49

        Jack Charlton pioneered the principle that you were eligible to play for Ireland if your grandma’s pet was an Irish wolfhound.

        Sweden has always been grateful that Zlatan chose to play for Sweden, like Germany to Özil, Podolski and Klose. Would Renae have gotten a place on the USAWNT?

    • It’s kind of nice to have the yard markers, but the football lines don’t even begin to make the yard markers worth it. I kept thinking the ball was out of bounds.

      It’s fun watching a NFL game with a baseball field on it (but sucks as a playing surface clearly)… Not so much watching a football match played on a football pitch on top of a football field (sorry – had to do it).

      • Don B.

        Wouldn’t it be fun if MLB had to play with the NFL lines still on the field?

        • Looking at the “bright side” if the NFL can’t get rid of a different sports field during their games how is any other league supposed ot?

  • At least we can all agree we got another reminder that artificial turf is bad, right? The way the ball was moving tonight looked so unnatural. This is not ok for the level of a World Cup. Hardly ok for this level either, though they have to deal with it for cost reasons.

    • sodepressed

      no kidding! but you think the PDX midfield could still make a SIMPLE PASS! its like they were either blind or had double vision lol

      • They tightened things up after the half. Kansas ruled the midfield still, but didn’t have as many chances it doesn’t seem. Portland appeared frustrated by the speed of play and mounting mistakes in the midfield. Teams should go at them like that early in the season until they adjust. It will be interesting to see how the coach handles this.

  • sodepressed

    I have to say this was the most boring inaugural game in history of women’s pro league. YES! I said it. LA Sol v Freedom had such better play.

    Kerr, Long, Washington should look in the mirror and slap themselves extremely hard for HOW ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE they played and it seemed like they couldn’t even pass a ball to a wide open player. At first I was thinking oh wait, its the turf, then I realized these girls PRACTICE on turf!!!! Okay that might be extremely hard, but imagine anyone watching and seeing the horrible level of play by those players, their free kicks also ALL SUCKED! and looked like they played with NO PASSION or aggression

    After seeing how Long/Kerr/Washington couldn’t do anything and knowing Sinclair needs to be touching the ball and not expect Long/Ker/WA to do their jobs, I think it’s clear the best decision would be to play a 4-3-1-2 with Foxhoven/Morgan Up Top playing in front of Sinclair, then Edwards behind and Long/Washington on the wings even though I would be fine with getting them out of the starting line up. (HOPING COACH CONE READS THIS)

    Everyone thought the PTFC defense was the weakest, now its CLEARLY the midfield (HONESTLY).

    Renae C goal looked exactly like all her other Oklahoma goals, pushed off her defender and easy shot.

    ALSO Karina LeBlanc was horrible. Her distribution out of the back was just sad.

    What pissed me off the most was passing back to LeBlanc WAY TOO MUCH

    Funny part is that FCKC was exactly what everyone thought, just no real partner for Renae.

    Also this game reminded me of what I hated most about the WPS. The annoying turf on football lines and 6-8 players surrounding the ball with baby passes that did nothing or girls just trying to flick the ball anywhere.

    Player of the Game, I personally thought Desiree Scott did very well holding the ball for FCKC.

    Also NWSL and USSoccer should be ashamed how bad the youtube quality was so much refreezing and I’m not going to stand for the “we didn’t expect 6K people watching online”. Seriously, they don’t think about the actual fans that matter, the ONES that REALLY follow the game. I can’t wait to see the Thorns play in PDX with HD Live Stream, the level of play at home games better get good.

    LAST COMMENT OF THE NIGHT———————————————————-

    Players like Long and Washington should be scolded by the refs and teammates for looking so stupid with the tiny shin guards and almost socks down to the ankle.

    Now I’m convince Coach Cone needs to ditch the “my UNC girls” line-up.


      • sodepressed


      • Don B.

        Thank goodness you got that out of your system before you exploded.

    • wosofan

      Doubts about Vlatko Andonovski as a new women’s head coach are pretty much gone now; this team worked hard, they were cohesive and disciplined, they had a wonderful defensive game plan, and they deserved to win the match.

      Merritt Mathias gets the award for the best player that I’d never really seen play, and certainly the best outside back on the field tonight; Tymrak looks ready to carry a significant load in attacking midfield whenever Cheney & Mewis depart for international duty; Mewis looked very composed and strong on the ball, but perhaps could’ve speeded her decisions and play a bit; the huge gap in quality between Sauerbrunn (smart positioning, clean touches) and Buehler (poor distribution, poor footwork, too many fouls) was on clear display, but I should probably save that comment for some USWNT blog somewhere.

      Desiree Scott was really strong, and her fitness showed in the second half. Hard to see the KC defense (with that level of aggressive play from Barnhart) giving up many goals this season.

      The artificial turf was horrible, along with the football lines. I have to think (hope, pray) that the turf in Seattle, PDX, and maybe WNY is a bit softer, and plays a bit truer? Anyway, the turf was terrible, terrible advert for this new league. I’ll keep watching NWSL because I’m a goner for woso, but how does that product attract new viewers? I don’t think HD-quality television will make the bouncy balls and resultingly poor ball control disappear. Finally, this match was too physical, and too much went uncalled; the PK call was thus not only soft, but inconsistent, or sui generis.

      • TsovLoj

        I agree that the PK call was dumb. And I say that as a Thorns fan. But I think it’s become part of the women’s game to let things get physical, and it’s honestly part of the draw for me. It’s a cold night in Stoke every time. If I wanted to watch masterful passing with limited contact I’d watch La Liga.

    • necron99

      I also don’t think the turf on that high school field is of the same quality of the FIFA approved turf field at JeldWen. It appeared very fast and bouncy.

      • Steglitz49

        Maybe the Equalizer could ask to see its certificate?

    • necron99

      About that comment on the Youtube stream. I really hope the work it out as I want to be able to watch games for non-local teams. But….. you are absolutely wrong about the fans that matter. The fans that matter are the ones that pay for season tickets and go to games, not people who complain about FREE video streams.

      • sodepressed

        LOL people that complain about free video streams? the NWSL is a new product that they are trying to sell, they aren’t doing good job if they can’t even do video right, WPS had better free video on occassion, every business needs to be at the top of their game to keep/retain/earn customers. Step It Up NWSL & USSoccer

        • USWNT Junkie

          I agree with basically all, I’m surprised the stream was free, being from MA I need the streams to see the games. I would have paid to watch this game, but thankfully didn’t have to. You bet your butt I will be at every Breakers home game though!

    • Steglitz49

      I put it to you that you are a wee bit unfair when you compare with LA Sol. The Sol’s midfield had Miyama and Abily, in attack Marta and in defense Frisk, not counting all the Americans and Canadians in their roster.

      The artificial surface is a cost issue. Beggars can’t be choosers. No doubt if you wrote them a check or bankers draft, KC would install natural grass. The grid-iron lines are annoying though; can’t they be painted over?

      • sodepressed

        Frisk didn’t really play defense much, i think maybe 5 games total. she didn’t play at all i think in that opener. Abily was honestly a huge unknown in the US to most fans, but the thing different is that she took the opportunity to showcase if she was one of the best in the word. A lot of these NWSL player’s dont.

        True about the cost issue, had the same annoying thought about the Chicago game. Honestly, I would pay 5-10 bucks more if it was on a regular field.

        I honestly think these fields like Chicago and KC exaggerate how bad the play is since the ball moves way faster than these girls can honestly. the ball bouncing so high is just unnatural.

        What would be awesome if someone went in and sprayed painted over non-soccer lines the night before the games. lol

        Just reviewed everything…………..looks like Yurak and Maryland will be the only non-turf fields…….Reminds me more of the W-League. Even Yurak had some i think lacross lines. This turf thing is something I don’t want to get used to.

    • NYRick

      I’m guessing by your “so depressed” moniker and analysis (which was thoughtful and knowledgable in a lot of ways too) that you’re kind of glass half empty kind of person, no?

      • sodepresed

        more like……have expectations that aren’t met by people that are paid not to disappoint. Its just annoying when some of these players have such an amazing opportunity truly, don’t take their chance to really make a statement of the kind of player they are. I guess feel depressed for some of these players.

        In women’s soccer it always seems when starting WPS, WUSA, NWSL. There’s such an opportunity to succeed more so for the upcoming players, yet most don’t.

    • KT5000

      Football turf is harder/slicker than the soccer turf that the Thorns practice on.

      • sodepressed

        good point, but it still doesn’t make an excuse for allie long and washington that are “known” to have great technical ability. didn’t see it.

  • Sinclair and Morgan make terrible midfielders. Teams that can keep them there will have good luck against them like we saw tonight. Only a few teams have as strong of a midfield as Kansas City though and I suspect after a month Portland will have evened up there too. This should at least make their home game against Reign more interesting as Reign’s midfield is their strongest area.

    • Steglitz49

      Once Ms Heath and Ms Rapinoe return from France, the tunes will be different. This was a missed opportunity for KC.

      Worse, boring matches with few goals will not cut the mustard.

      • I’ve already put Portland down for first beneficiary of a bad PK call. As long as we are listing firsts of the new league. KC outplayed them and got unlucky with that call. As I am not a fan of either team a draw works out well for me. Less points either get the better. And I needed a Sinclair goal for my fantasy team so… I was very conflicted throughout lets just say.

        • Steglitz49

          Who do you want to win? Chicago?

          Does a PK count? PSOs do not count in various statistics. For example, the WC-11 final is considered a draw as a match. (It was the world cup that was decided by the pso.) I suppose it is about as logical as golf.

          • I had thought I’d be supporting Chicago some, but after various shenanigans I’m going all in with Reign. Hoping they prove people wrong and sneak into the playoffs. No more split loyalties. I like their squad. I do have a soft spot for whatever team KO is on tho.

        • NYRick

          “And I needed a Sinclair goal for my fantasy team so… ”

          You see, by this one sentence you have thoroughly convinced me that the new league will be a success.

          • Ha! I’m probably not the average fan. I’m a little sports crazy. That said, there is a chunk of fandom having fun with the fantasy league. It’s a great way to stay involved outside of just your favorite team and learn about a few fringe players along the way.

  • Mathias, Sauerbrunn, Sessalman, Robinson, and Desiree Scott had a great match. Cuèllar was good up top, but 90+ minutes alone is going to wear one down. But perhaps the night was about containing Morgan and Sinclair and them taking it out on another team down the road,
    Great crowd 6,200 + 500+ SRO = 6,784 attendance. Great atmosphere – better than the US vs Holland or Algrave Cup crowd.

    • Steglitz49

      Marvellous! 6,784 is, forsooth, a fine attendance. The top attendance last season in Sweden’s ladies league was 4,032 for the league decider between Malmö & Tyresö and the second biggest was 3,125 when Tyresö with Marta visited Marta’s old team Umeå.

      The top in Germany last season was 8,689, but average attendances for the best attended clubs in Europe was 2-2,5k.

      Attendances like last night’s 21,923 at Lyon for their CL semifinal are unusual and only seen at Lyon for their CL semi-finals. This shows the value of Cup-competitions.

  • Steglitz49

    I just checked a bit of media coverage. I started with CNN. Nothing under sport and nothing under soccer. I went to the Washington Post and NYT. Both had a small item under their “sports” tab but it was not a write-up of the match but a bit of history.

    Maybe the write-ups will be today. Let’s hope so because without media interest this league will struggle. Sponsors like media coverage.

    • You would have to check the local newspapers for that. The NWSL isn’t going to draw day to day attention outside of their markets. They should get attention from non local newspapers when they announce expansions, but even that would remain in cities where there is a potential for a new team.

      Lots of newspapers don’t even pay attention to pro teams if they don’t draw a large local interest. Box scores are the best you can hope for in those situations.

      • I’m wondering if the Boston papers are even going to notice (they didn’t when the Breakers were in WPSLE and doing well). No mentions in the big papers today, though the Globe did list the NWSL scores in tiny font.

        • Rochester always has good coverage, but I’m not sure it would be fair to compare Rochester to any of the other NWSL cities for various reasons.

    • NYRick

      The only media play that seems to be happening for the league today is that AM will be guest appearing on Fox Soccer this afternoon (I think after the Chelsea-Man City FA Cup match) to talk about the start of the new league. Good job by Alex. That’s what the league needs front and center. It’s important that the league’s most visible player helps promote the sport and the league.

      Other than that, you won’t see too much coverage anywhere. Sports radio, which is huge, in NYC doesn’t even talk about men’s soccer let alone women’s. They barely mention a Red Bull score even on gameday. I think you have said it best in your past analysis: women 20-35 need to come out and attend the games and support female athletes. We now the 12-year old are going to come out with their dads, but it’s young women in the 20-35 age range and above who need to drag their friends, boyfriends or whoever out to see a game. They won’t be disappointed, and hopefully be very entertained.

      • Steglitz49

        The 10-12 year old with her dad is a common sight in Europe too. Maybe also in Japan. Usually the girl(s) then go and join their friends and pa sits on his own. Dedication! Maybe there should be a crèche for soccer dads at the grounds.

      • TsovLoj

        Frankly, I think we also need 20-35 year old men. Full disclosure: I’m in that demographic. But why I think that is that among other things, the supporter culture’s been a huge driver for MLS growth, and it’s largely young men that are in that scene. Although I certainly think it’d be cool to have female-dominated supporter firms, I see no sign of it happening.

  • NYRick

    Thoughts on the match:

    1. Football lines on the field are just awful for any soccer match. I mean c’mon. Football doesn’t start for another couple of months. Would it kill them to wash those lines for a few months? The MLS biggest step towards respectability was doing away with that garbage in all their stadiums. Hopefully this league will get there. I understand the economics of things, but it was shocking to see right off the bat.

    2. The PK call was weak at best. You know it’s a bad call when it doesn’t even enter your mind while it’s happening. I was just hoping no one got injured since it was rough collision. I had the volume down and when I saw Sinclair lining up to take the PK it was like, “Whaaaaaat?”

    3. Forcing AM to the midfield is something every team should try to do. Just horrible service and really play from the Portland mids. They basically rendered 2 of the 5 best players in the world useless. Great game by Sauerbrunn, who is developing into a terrific defender.

    4. Mewis is a player. I’m hoping she is the one to develop into the replacement for Boxx in the midfield for the national team. She is tall and surprising strong on the ball and possesses speed and vision. I certainly noticed her presence out there. She’s going to be a star in this league and for the USWNT.

    5. Tremendous crowd. Great job by the KC fans. This area is certainly a soccer hotbed. Although I do think Alex will sell out every game she plays by herself in this league (home and away).

    6. Not too much creativity by either team in the final third and few scoring chances, but a good match and good start to the league.

    • Steglitz49

      Always look on the bright side of life: “Grid-iron lines on the field” ought to help make judging the off-side easy.

      • What are you talking about??? This is soccer. Blown offside calls are Law 18 🙂

    • The field is a high school field. Those lines are not painted on. They are part of the actual FieldTurf

      • NYRick

        So the lines actually come painted in the rolls before they put that crap on the field? Wow. Even more lame. FieldTurf and its likes are the bane of every sport. It ruins the natural play of every game its associated with. It of course was made for economics and to help with rainouts and maintenance etc., but more sports injuries and in reality poor play have resulted from this junk then anything else.

        I can see why Abby and the women players are in an uproar over turf at the upcoming WWC. The men would never stand for it, and neither should they.

        • It’s a cost factor. Much easier to have lines in the field than to line it constantly.

          • Steglitz49

            Does it affect the play? Do the players complain about the lines? Or, is it just the spectators who find it unappetizing?

  • StarCityFan

    At least this first-ever goal was 100% legit. The WUSA one was off a dubious PK call, and in replays of the WPS one there’s no sign that Allison Falk even touched the ball – should have been either goalkeeper interference or an own goal on Briana Scurry.

  • luke

    Unsuitable pitch, bad webcast, average performance, but FANTASTIC crowd and that’s most important! Isn’t it???

    If the fans will attend matches, there will be bigger, better stadiums, better players, better broadcasts. That’s why I’m hopeful about this league!

    • What was wrong with the webcast? The replay on YouTube seemed decent.

      • Kendra

        Watching live it kept freezing and became very unwatchable. I constantly had to keep refreshing to just catch up and ended up following the match on twitter. The best way to watch the match was to be 5 mins behind.

        • That’s just strange. It had to either be a YouTube problem, or a problem on your end, and I’ve never had problems with YouTube live on that scale.

          • sodepressed

            It was a NWSL Problem……………..Period.

          • Not if the video after the fact is fine. I’m not sure how many times you have streamed live to YouTube (I’m going to guess 0), but the process is pretty dead simple.

            You stream the video, and YouTube records it (including hiccups) at which point they publish it a short time later. So again… It’s either a YouTube problem (which is doubtful) or your connection.

          • Perhaps, but a *lot* of people had connection problems.

          • Of course the irony is the absurdly fast and cheap Google Fiber is in KC.

        • stephy_paola

          I was at the game and twitter was a few minutes behind what was actually happening.

      • heremerawr

        I had the same problem. The connection kept cutting out and it was rather frustrating at times. I think at its worst the stream was ten minutes behind twitter.

  • Greg_G

    Some pros and some cons after the inaugural match…

    Great first match attendance and enthusiasm, though no one should be making any sorts of proclamations about the league attendance figures after only one match. WPS did a great number for its opening match and ended up with a season average of 4600, which then fell by a thousand per match the following season. Curiosity and novelty (new league, new city) will always draw new fans, but can the league keep them coming?

    Not the best played match, but great effort from both sides considering how quickly the league was formed, how convoluted the roster-building process was, and the fact that players were drawn from all over the place. I imagine team chemistry will improve greatly over subsequent weeks and with it the quality of play.

    The Webcast was, unfortunately, dreadful – which is not a surprise considering the budget the league is working with. To get HQ broadcasts you would have to have the infrastructure in place, and NWSL just doesn’t have the money for it. This makes getting a regular TV outlet an even bigger priority. And while teams certainly were limited in their options for playing fields, I have to agree with those that say that watching a soccer match on a football field is quite a chore. Hopefully FCKC will have better options in future seasons.

    Overall, very glad to see pro women’s soccer back in action.

  • KT5000

    Well, I expected FCKC to be good, and they were. I hope I can make time to watch a lot of their matches.
    Having seen Portland’s pre-season match, I know that the Thorn’s midfielders can do better (but will they?). (I know the opponent matters, but you can still see some things about a player…)
    – For example, one’s ability to place a corner kick should be relatively static – not dependent on who you’re going up against – and Kerr put two in a row right onto (or behind?) the post. I saw none of what makes her so special on display. Does she panic under pressure? We shall see.
    – Edwards was an absolute revelation in the pre-season match but was ineffective against FCKC.
    – Washington was at least involved, but had many serious brainfreeze moments – multiple times that she should have passed the ball or seemed to fall asleep mentally.
    I hope the Thorns focus on integrating the team with their forwards, who only had a few practices with the rest of the team during pre-season.