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Blues roll Spirit behind Cheney brace


Lauren Cheney scored twice Sunday to take the team lead away from Renae Cuellar. (Photo copyright Thad Bell.)

FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski made some surprising lineup changes Sunday but it was one of his constants, Lauren Cheney, who provided both goals in a 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit on a blistering day at Verizon Wireless Field.  Cheney scored on either side of the half to send the Spirit to their fourth straight loss, all by shutout.

The Spirit debuted Conny Pohlers as part of the starting lineup and were forced to go without Diana Matheson who emerged from Canada duty during the week with an ankle issue.  But it was the Blues who made significant changes to the lineup.

Andonovski pulled Merritt Mathias from the starting XI and dropped Kristie Mewis to the rear as the left fullback.  Leigh Ann Robinson, who had seen every minute at left back prior to Sunday, moved over to the right side.  In midfield, Sinead Farrelly came out while Erika Tymrak and Courtney Jones kept their places even with the international players back.  But the most surprising move was Andonovski starting Melissa Henderson up top in place of Renae Cuellar.

“I felt that against Washington, and with all that we’ve had going on lately, this lineup was the best way for us to win today,” Andonovski said. “I think the results speak to that, Melissa (Henderson) gave us a different dimension offensively that we haven’t had before and then Renae was fresh and fast when she came in second half.”

Henderson was dangerous on numerous occasions, but it was Cheney who filled the net.  Three days after scoring the ‘other goal’ in the match Abby Wamabch broke Mia Hamm’s international scoring record, Cheney put the Blues ahead of the Spirit in the 18th minute.  The buildup began through Robinson and Jones but the danger came when Ali Krieger failed to clear Jones’ cross.  The ball went to Tymrak, who laid it off to Jen Buczkowski and then Cheney.  Cheney let loose with a blast from distance that struck the underside of the crossbar and settled in the goal for a 1-0 lead.

FC Kansas City had several more chances in the 1st half but settled for a single goal after an opening 45 minutes they dominated.  In the 65th minute, Cuellar, having recently subbed in for Henderson, took on two Spirit defenders and managed to get off a shot around Robyn Gayle.  Ashlyn Harris made the save after which it appeared Spirit defenders were looking for the ball to go out of bounds and failed to track Cheney to the far post.  Mathias—also having been subbed in—hit a simple cross to Cheney who was wide open and barely had to touch it for put the finishing touches on the 2-0 victory.

The Blues (6-4-1, 19 points) moved seven points clear of the playoff bubble ahead of Wednesday’s away match to Sky Blue FC.  The Spirit (1-6-3, 6 points) extended their scoreless drought to 336 minutes.  They are at Western New York on Friday night.

Washington Spirit vs. FC Kansas City
June 23, 2013
Verizon Wireless Field at Shawnee Mission District Stadium, Overland Park, Kansas
3:10p.m. CT (4:10pm ET)
Attendance: 3,057
88 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary
Washington Spirit 0 0 0
FC Kansas City 1 1 2
Scorer (Assist)
FCKC Lauren Cheney (Jen Buczkowski) 18′
FCKC Lauren Cheney (Merritt Mathias) 65′

FCKC: 1-Barnhart Goalkeeper; 13-Robinson Right Back, 14-Sesselmann Center Back, 4-Sauerbrunn Center Back, 19-Mewis Left Back; 15-Tymrak (17-Farrelly 73’) Right Midfielder, 6-Buczkowski Midfielder, 11-Scott Midfielder, 12-Cheney Midfielder, 8-Jones (9-Mathias 56’) Left Midfielder; 2-Henderson (10-Mathias 60’) Forward
Subs not used: Henninger, Kelly, Williams

WAS: Gayle, Harris, King, Krieger, Lindsey, McCarty, Ochs (Roberts 66’), Pressely, Spencer, Toulouse (Hodak 46’), Pohlers (Williams 69’)
Subs not used: Chapman, Huster, Jones


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