OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Lauren Cheney’s two assists lead FC Kansas City to their first win Friday night. Sinead Farrelly and Renae Cuellar were the goal scorers for the Blues and Nicole Barnhart and her defense were able to shut Seattle out, 2-0.
It had rained off and on all day and despite the fact it slacked off just before the game started, the field was still very wet and very fast. “It’s a quicker game, especially on turf, especially this type of turf, the rain makes it so much quicker,” observed FC Kansas City’s Lauren Cheney. “It did affect the game a lot; it was a little sloppy and a little frantic.”
Both teams started the game a little sloppy with the wet field and the initial period of feeling out the other team. The early match was fairly even but in the 22nd minute the game changed when the Blues earned a corner kick and Lauren Cheney swung a ball into the box hoping to beat Reign keeper Michelle Betos.
“I was actually trying to score,” Cheney confided. “I knew it was wet and was just trying to get a shot on the keeper, I felt it and just bent it in and Sinead did a great job.”
Farrelly made her run and slipped between defenders to head to the back post as Cheney let It fly. “It was a perfect ball, we always say on corners to try and score. So Cheney tried to score and it was about to go out,I was just at the right place at the right time and I just touched it in.
“I didn’t even know it went in but I celebrated because I assumed it did,” admitted Farrelly. “Thank god! It would have been embarrassing. Someone hugged me and I knew it was good, it was real.”
With that goal FC Kansas City was able to settle down and start to play the style they want. “Obviously an early goal can calm us down a little bit,” Cheney observed. “It was a little frantic for both sides at the beginning. It’s wet, the pitch is so fast, they play high pressure, it was a little frantic and that goal allowed us to calm down a bit.”
In the 71st minute Cheney played a long ball up the middle that split the defenders and Mexican National team forward Renae Cuellar ran onto it and pulled away from the Seattle defenders struggling to get back. Betos came out as Cuellar crossed into the box but was unable to stop the shot from sliding past her.
“I’m going to be honest, that was just a clearance, I was really lucky the ball went there,” confessed Cheney. “I was just trying to keep possession, I kind of had an idea where she was but that was just a clearance. Luck! I told my teammate on the way back, Sauerbrunn asked ‘Chen, pass or clearance?’, and I was like ‘total clearance.’“
With the two goal lead the Blues were able to knock the ball around, keep possession and limit chances for the remainder of the half.
Cheney is Cheney
Despite the fact that both of Lauren Cheney’s assists were not exactly meant to be assists, it was undeniable that she had a very good game across the field. She was a dominate force in the game. In FC Kansas City’s previous match, it was all about limiting Portland’s two big name strikers. In this game is was about controlling the midfield and getting numbers forward.
“Our main focus was in getting numbers in the offensive third and it was quite obvious that several times during the game we that had both outside backs in the offensive third and three midfielders and the forward,” FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski explained.
When asked about Cheney, Coach Andonovski replied, “Lauren Cheney tonight was Lauren Cheney. That is what she does.”
“Thought it was quite even but goals change games,” stated Seattle Reign coach Laura Harvey. “We are quite disappointed that we didn’t take more of the opportunities we created. It was probably the quietest game our keeper has had but we came away with the worst defeat of the season. At the moment we are just not good enough in and around the opponent’s goal.”
Seattle’s issues with the allocated national team players is well known. The fact they do not presently have any is not going to be used as an excuse by Reign midfielder Christine Nairn, “We might not have our allocated players but we’re not going to roll over for any team. That blue-collar mentality goes a long way and it’s a long season. We didn’t get the result we wanted but we know what we need to work on and where we can forward from this.”
“They [FC Kansas City] are a great team,” admitted Harvey. “I actually think personally that they are the best team in the league, the way they move the ball, the players they’ve got, they’ve got game changers, Lauren Cheney is an excellent player and she proved that tonight and they’ve got people that score goals.”
Seattle finally gets to go home and have their season opener when they host the rematch with FC Kansas City next Saturday at Starfire Stadium.
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