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Morgan scores as Pride help extend FC Kansas City woes

Alex Morgan scored her first NWSL goal of the season to key the Pride’s 4-1 rout of reeling FC Kansas City on Saturday night at Orlando City Stadium. Morgan drew and finished a 1st half penalty and was one of four Pride goal scorers on the night, none named Marta. FC Kansas City were denied multiple times by Pride keeper Aubrey Bledsoe and their woes continued, setting a club record with a seventh straight match without a win and extending a club mark by losing four in a row.

Marta did not score a goal on the night, but she did have an exquisite assist to put the Pride on top in the 22nd minute. Camila took a short corner and worked with Marta as FCKC defenders kept a watchful eye. They could not prevent Marta from getting off a cross from tight quarters and Alanna Kennedy jumped up in traffic for a header that beat Nicole Barnhart to the keeper’s left to put the hosts on top.

In the 38th minute, Marta stepped into a free kick on the left side that appeared to land harmlessly in Barnhart’s hands. But Morgan, stationed the near the top of the box, was pulled down by Katie Bowen who had her arm wrapped around Morgan as the striker set off for goal. A penalty kick was awarded and Morgan stepped into it with her left foot and scored easily, sending Barnhart the wrong way.

FC Kansas City had a glimmer of hope when they used some direct play to split the lead in half in the 65th minute. Following an extensive exchange in the back while the Pride sat back on a humid, Florida night, Christina Gibbons launched a ball over the top directed at Sydney Leroux. The ball bounced off Leroux’s backside which prompted Pride center backs Ali Krieger and Toni Pressley to move for the ball. They couldn’t beat Bowen there though and their positioning allowed Meagan Kelly to run in behind. Bowen made the perfect pass and Kelly finished, making it 2-1.

The hope was short lived. The Pride restored a multi-goal lead in the 70th minute after winning a corner kick off a gorgeous counter attack. Camila took the corner and it was cleared back toward the touch line. Camila retrieved it and gave it to Toni Pressley. The center back promptly shook Kelly to create space and sent a left-footed shot that started wide but curled back into the goal for 3-1.

Bledsoe made one of her quality saves on Kelly in the 74th minute and then restarted the play on the ground. Pressley launched a long ball that went all the way to Barnhart, positioned outside her 18-yard box. Barnhart put a poor touch on it, Kristen Edmonds pounced and then walked in and scored on a open goal.

The Pride (5-5-4, 19 pts) remained in touch with the top four and will find themselves 3 or 4 points adrift heading into next Saturday’s match at Chicago. They are 4-2-1 in their last seven games after a 1-3-3 start. As for FC Kansas City (3-7-4, 13 pts), they conceded 4 goals for the first time since allowing a league-record 7 to the Thorns on July 13, 2014. They return home next Saturday to face league-leading North Carolina Courage.

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