Things continue to get worse for the Western New York Flash, and they never came close to looking promising on Wednesday.
FC Kansas City defeated Western New York 1-0 on Wednesday at Durwood Stadium, handing the Flash their fourth loss in their last five games. The Flash are winless in five-straight, a franchise-worst across four leagues over the last five-plus years. A May 25 draw — a lead Western New York blew in stoppage time — against Seattle represents their only point during that stretch.
Amy Rodriguez’s goal on the stroke of halftime stood as the game-winner. It was Rodriguez’s ninth goal of the NWSL season, tying her with Seattle’s Kim Little for the most in the league.
FC Kansas City defender Becky Sauerbrunn started the play, swinging the ball to right back Leigh Ann Robinson before the ball eventually found Merritt Mathias on the right flank. She held the ball up, and Robinson made an overlapping run, receiving the ball and dribbling toward the endline before crossing to Rodriguez for the one-time finish to the far post in the 44th minute.
The goal was all the Blues needed on a night in which the Flash hardly looked dangerous going forward. Western New York lined up without a forward to start the match, with Abby Wambach out due to an LCL sprain in her left knee that she suffered over the weekend. Carli Lloyd, wearing the captain’s armband in Wambach’s absence, played a pseudo-forward role for the first 45 minutes as the player pushed highest on the pitch, but Aaran Lines’ side essentially lined up in a 4-2-4 formation.
With the Flash playing for the counterattack, FC Kansas City held most of the possession throughout the match. Rodriguez forced a save out of Flash goalkeeper Lydia Williams in the 8th minute on a volley from 18 yards out, and Rodriguez nearly earned her first assist of the season in the 24th minute when she found Robinson at the back post, but Flash defender Brittany Taylor cleared Robinson’s shot off the line.
Lines made changes in the second half, but nothing kick-started the visitors. Jasmine Spencer came on for Sam Kerr at the start of the half, but slid into the wide right role that Kerr had occupied as Adriana Martin pushed higher into a lone forward role. Martin had the best chance of the half in the 78th minute, but her long-range shot was a relatively tame effort that never bothered Blues goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
Erika Tymrak nearly doubled Kansas City’s advantage in the 63rd minute when she dribbled through Flash defenders Katherine Reynolds and Taylor, but Williams came up with a huge point-blank save from eight yards out.
FC Kansas City defender Amy LePeilbet made her NWSL debut on Wednesday, entering the match in the 84th minute. The 2012 gold medalist U.S. defender has spent the last 18 months recovering from left ACL surgery.
Western New York next heads to Portland for a critical matchup with the Thorns. Both of last year’s finalists are currently outside the NWSL playoff picture. The Flash (3-5-2, 11 pts.) are a full seven points out of a playoff spot after the Washington Spirit defeated the Chicago Red Stars on Wednesday, putting more pressure on the Flash as they travel to Portland (4-3-2, 14 pts.).
FC Kansas City (5-4-3, 18 pts.) sits one point behind Chicago and Washington and hosts the last-place Boston Breakers on Saturday.
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