Coming off their first loss of the season, FC Kansas City knocked the NWSL’s last unbeaten team back to earth. With goals from Renae Cuellar and Lauren Cheney, the Blues posted a 2-0 victory over the visiting Breakers Saturday night in front of 4,362 in Overland Park, improving to 3-1-1.
The win vaults Kansas City third in the NWSL standings, three points behind the league’s leaders: Sky Blue FC and Portland Thorns FC. Boston falls to fourth, their loss leaving them 2-1-2 on the young season.
FC Kansas City, coming off a 2-1 loss last week in Rochester, were without captain Becky Sauerbrunn, whose hamstring injury forced midfielder Jen Buczkowski into central defense. Midfielder Casey Loyd came into the team on the left side of the Blues’ midfield, with Sinead Farrelly falling into a holding role along said Desiree Scott.
For Boston, Mexican international Cecilia Santiago was called upon in goal, with Breakers’ head coach Lisa Cole continuing the platoon policy between the 18-year-old and Ashley Phillips.
Boston came out the stronger side from the opening kickoff, with Kansas City left to push the Breakers back off the counter. Near the quarter hour-mark, Kansas City gave Boston their first scare, with a close offside call the only thing stopping Renae Cueller from getting onto a through ball from Lauren Cheney.
Minutes later, Boston wasn’t so lucky. On another through ball put behind the defense, the Breakers’ high line got burned, with Cheney sending Cuellar in on goal from 35 yards out. At the edge of the penalty area, one Mexican international beat another inside the right post to put Kansas City in front.
Cuellar had suffered an early injury that saw her leave the field after receiving medical attention. Fortunately, the incident was only a scare, as Cuellar was able to return to notch her fourth goal of the season.
After the opener, Kansas City was able to maintain more possession, though with neither team generating any meaningfully threats on goal, the home team was able to carry their one-goal lead into halftime.
While Boston tried to change things up by bringing on Kyah Simon for Katie Schoepfer in the 55th minute, the match continued to lack significant chances until the 64th. Then, off a restart deep on the Blues’ left flank, Loyd swung a ball in toward the Boston penalty spot. The cross bounced behind the Breaker line and onto Cheney, who beat two chasing defenders to chest a ball past Santiago, giving Kansas City a 2-0 lead.
Boston eventually brought on Rhian Wilkinson for Jo Dragotta, a like-for-like swap at right back, but still could not get anything started going forward. By the time Norwegian international Lisa Marie-Woods came on for Syndey Leroux in the 84th minute, the match was all but settled.
Kansas City did receive some bad news near the end of the match. In the 81st minute, Lauren Sesselman was helped off the field with a right ankle injury, leaving the Blues with two injured central defenders at match’s end.
The Blues’ next game is seven days from now, when first place Sky Blue FC visit Overland Park. That same day, Boston hosts Washington at Dilboy Stadium.
17′ – Renae Cuellar 4 (Lauren Chenery)
64′ – Lauren Cheney 2 (Casey Loyd)
FC Kansas City: Nicole Barnhart; Leigh Ann Robinson, Lauren Sesslemann (Katie Kelly, 81′), Jen Buczkowski, Merritt Mathias; Desiree Scott, Sinead Farrelly; Casey Loyd (Courtney Jones, 79′), Lauren Cheney, Kristie Mewis (Nia Williams, 90+2′); Renae Cuellar.
Boston Breakers: Cecilia Santiago; Julie King, Cat Whitehill, Kia McNeill, Jo Dragotta (Rhian Wilkinson, 72′); Joanna Lohman, Mariah Nogueira; Katie Schoepfer (Kyah Simon, 55′), Lianne Sanderson, Heather O’Reilly; Sydney Leroux (Lisa Marie-Woods, 83′).
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