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FC Kansas City dismantle Breakers, go top of table

Merritt Mathias, FC Kansas City
Nicole Barnhart

Nicole Barnhart now leads NWSL with 9 shutouts. (Photo Copyright Amanda McCormick | www.amandamccormick8.com)

FC Kansas City produced 90 minute of gorgeous soccer in a 3-0 victory over the Boston Breakers that vaulted them to the top of the table for the first time.  A 72nd minute own goal was augmented by late strikes from Courtney Jones and Merritt Mathias to keep the Blues unbeaten in eight matches.  The loss further cripples the Breakers’ playoff hopes as they remain seven points adrift of the 4th place Flash with five matches to pay.

FC Kansas City were in complete control for the first 20 minutes and no worse than equal to the Breakers the rest of the first half, but still found themselves in the locker room for halftime in a scoreless match.  And early in the second it looked like it may not be their night.  In the 53rd minute Breakers’ goalkeeper Ashley Phillips pushed Jen Buczkowski’s low, hard shot just wide of the net. Five minutes later Phillips made what will go down as the save of the night even though replays confirmed she was at least a yard outside her penalty box when she put her hand on Melissa Henderson’s point-blank shot.

The match remained scoreless until the 72nd minute, when Erika Tymrak played Mathias into space on the right side.  Mathias’ cross was touched by Kia McNeill’s foot and it redirected into goal to break the stalemate.

After pressing for the equalizer the Breakers got caught on a counter leading to the backbreaking goal in the 85th minute.  Substitute Teresa Noyola sprung Lauren Holiday (nee Cheney) down the right side and she sent a far-post cross to Jones—also a substitute—who had sneaked behind a weary Breakers’ defense.

Mathias was not about to let the night end without getting a goal for herself.  Noyola did much of the work to build the ball into the attacking third and after Julie King’s clearance popped straight up in the air, the Blues produced a clinical goal.  Noyola played it on the first bounce, heading it to Holiday, who flicked it for Mathias.  Phillips watched in awe as Mathias’ first touch looped over her head to make it 3-0 in the 90th minute.

FC Kansas City (9-4-5, 32 pts.) are now a point clear of Sky Blue FC, who they visit Sunday evening.  They are two points ahead of Portland Thorns FC and concede a game in hand to Sky Blue and two to the Thorns.  The Breakers (5-7-5, 20 pts.) face an uphill climb to the playoffs.  They next play Saturday night in Washington.

A crowd of 5,024 was on hand at Verizon Wireless Field for the match originally scheduled for April 21 but postponed when the Breakers had issues getting out of Boston during the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect.

Talking Points

— Holiday had two assists but did not score a goal, snapping a streak of five-straight league matches with a goal.  She remains on 10, tied with the Breakers’ Sydney Leroux and the Flash’s Abby Wambach for the league lead.

— The clean sheet for Nicole Barnhart was her 9th of the season, good for the league lead.  She entered the match tied with Sky Blue’s Brittany Cameron.

— Desiree Scott was a force in defensive midfield as usual and Kristie Mewis played one of her strongest matches of the season at left back.

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