ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Abby Wambach scored twice and Carli Lloyd made her NWSL debut as the Western New York Flash defeated FC Kansas City 2-1, handing the Blues their first loss of the season on Saturday at Sahlen’s Stadium in front of a crowd of 2,738.
Both teams started out eager for the win, battling aggressively for possession. The Blues defense looked strong off the bat, but soon lost momentum and started scrambling to break up Flash offensive runs, especially those of Wambach.
“We can’t give her that space, the time or looks, so that’s something we have to improve on,” said Kansas City captain Becky Sauerbrunn.
In the 34th minute, Brittany Taylor knocked a long ball to Veronica Perez, who chested it to an oncoming Wambach for a well-placed left-footed shot into the back of the net.
Kansas City midfielder Kristie Mewis caused a few defensive jumbles for the Flash in the first half. Her aggressive play along the flank and powerful left foot created many dangerous opportunities, falling just short of scoring. Soon after Wambach’s first goal she was out for the equalizer in the 36th minute, but was denied by the crossbar.
Wambach scored the second Flash goal in the 39th minute from a loose ball in the box due to a defensive miscue. Leigh Ann Robinson’s errant back pass went straight to Wambach at the top of the 18-yard box.
“It was a miscommunication — one of our defenders was playing it back to another to clear it and it rolled into Abby’s path, “said Sauerbrunn, when asked about the goal. “She put it away and it was a great finish.”
Lauren Cheney put Kansas City on the board in the 52nd minute after a ball in from Robinson. Cheney was involved again in the 74th looking for the equalizer when she passed a thru ball to Jen Buczkowski, who blasted the shot on goal from eight yards, but Adriana Franch was able to make the outstanding save and maintain the Flash lead.
Lloyd made her debut in Rochester in the 64th minute when she subbed in for Perez. She came in eager for a goal and nearly got one nine minutes later after blasting a free kick on goal that was ultimately saved by a diving Nicole Barnhart. “I saw the opening there, visualized it and I thought I had her,” said Lloyd about her free kick.
Lloyd has spent the last 4-5 weeks working hard on getting herself fit [after suffering a broken bone in her left shoulder at the Algarve Cup in early March] to play and was glad coach Aaron Lines gave her some game time.
“My mindset this last week and last few days leading up to the game was to have a solid performance and not do too much — keep the ball simple, work hard, defend hard and help my teammates,” she said.
Barnhart had an impressive game. Though two goals slipped by her, she maintained her composure and stopped many dangerous shots on goal, including denying Wambach of a hat trick [twice]. Barnhart can thank midfielder Desiree Scott, too, who cleared Wambach’s 66th minute header off the line.
34’ | Wambach (Perez)
39’ | Wambach
53’ | Cheney (Robinson)
91’ | Yellow Card – Reckless Foul | Sesselmann
95’ | Yellow Card – Tactical Foul | Heyboer
WNY Flash starting XI: Sahlen, Kerr(Heyboer 83’), Salem, Zerboni, Adriana, Johnson, Taylor, Reynolds (McCarthy 75’), Perez (Lloyd 64’), Wambach, Franch.
FC Kansas City starting XI: Sauerbrunn Buczkowski, Mathias (Henderson 88’), Cuellar (Tymrak 59’), Scott, Cheney, Robinson, Sesselmann, Farrelly (Jones 75’), Barnhart, Mewis.