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Groom gives FCKC first win in 10 games

They left it late, but Shea Groom handed FC Kansas City their first win since May 27, while Houston may lose Carli Lloyd for a period of time.

The game started out with FCKC in a higher press than they normally bring, but it was Houston with the early chances. In the 4th minute, Lloyd found herself open in the middle of the box and received a great ball from Andressinha, but her half volley went wide. A few minutes later Becky Sauerbrunn was well positioned to clear a ball in but let it fall right to Janine Beckie, whose shot went wide.

Jane Campbell was called into action in the 16th minute when Groom sent in a cross from the right flank that appeared to be headed for goal. Taking no chances, Campbell tipped it over the crossbar for a Kansas City corner that Houston eventually cleared. Poor clearances from the Dash plagued them all night long.

In the 25th minute, Lloyd rose for a header at far post but couldn’t get it on frame. She appeared to land awkwardly and called for the trainer, remaining on the ground in obvious pain. She was helped off but walked under her own power, later icing her left ankle on the bench. She did not return to the game, and Cari Roccaro was subbed in.

The rest of the first half bogged down after the first hydration break, possibly a combination of the heat, Houston adjusting after losing Lloyd unexpectedly, and FCKC coming off a midweek game. Both sides seemed content to see the scoreless draw into halftime, which they did.

After the half, Groom appeared to come out with purpose and had her team’s best chances. A few minutes into the half, she dribbled down the pitch and across the top of the box until she created space, firing a shot over the crossbar. Not much later, she received the ball on a platter from Brittany Ratcliffe and was open in the center of the box, much like Lloyd early in the game, but she sent her shot high.

In the 62nd minute, Nichelle Prince received the ball from Roccaro and drove down the spine, firing a shot from distance that forced Nicole Barnhart into a diving save.

FCKC thought they had a chance to take the lead in the 69th minute when they were awarded a PK after Sydney Leroux was taken down inside the box. However, the referee reversed his decision after conferring with the assistant referee who confirmed that Leroux had been in an offside position.

Dodging a bullet, Houston went on the attack, playing it forward for Rachel Daly, who broke free of the backline, but Barnhart was quick off her line with a kick save to deny the English striker a chance.

Once again, the game bogged down after the second hydration break and appeared to be headed for a scoreless draw. However, after both creating and missing earlier chances, Groom had a different ending in mind.

In the 83rd minute, after Houston couldn’t completely clear a corner kick, Becky Sauerbrunn had plenty of space in which to work on the left flank and sent in a beautiful cross. Groom rose above Cami Levin and sent in a header at the far post past Campbell. This is Groom’s second goal of the year, both against Houston.

Houston couldn’t make much happen for the rest of the game, and it was Leroux with the final opportunity as she broke free on a counter and took a shot straight at Campbell.

Houston and FCKC will split the 2017 season series so far 1-1, with each team winning their road match. They meet one more time in the last week of regular season play at Kansas City. Hosuton will retain seventh place and travels to Boston on Wednesday, while FCKC moves up to eighth place and hosts Portland on Wednesday.

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