Jen Buczkowski’s 2nd half goal delivered FC Kansas City their 5th consecutive victory, 1-0 over the Chicago Red Stars. The Blues were the better team throughout and finally capitalized with a swift buildup down the right side that ended with Merritt Mathias finding Buczkowski sneaking forward with a run to the far post. The win moves Kansas City to 8-4-3 (27 pts) and within five points of Seattle Reign FC who have three matches in hand, one of which will be Sunday at Western New York. The Red Stars (6-6-2) are now winless in their last five since their own five-match winning streak was snapped.
FC Kansas City started their first choice team and it showed early as they came out of the box and immediately began pressuring the Red Stars through possession. Still the opening half ended with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. The Red Stars had one early run by Christen Press and forced Nicole Barnhart into a save late in the half, but otherwise did little in terms of meaningful possession.
There has not been a scoreless draw in NWSL this season, but the Midwest clubs were threatening to produce the first until the breakthrough came in the 76th minute. Leigh Ann Robinson found a burst of energy and dribbled into the attacking third where she laid it off on the flank for Mathias. The cross was perfectly weighted to elude both center backs and find Buczkowski who had an easy finish into an open goal. Adriana Leon had an opportunity to mark Buczkowski’s run early but elected to cheat to her left towards possession. The goal was the first in NWSL for Buczkowski.
At the other end, Nicole Barnhart was rarely challenged on her way to recording her league-best 6th shutout of the season. Overall Barnhart has 16 shutouts in 34 regular season starts for FC Kansas City.
Next up for the Blues is a visit from the Thorns next Saturday. The Red Stars have next week off before embarking on a five-match stretch exclusively against the Pacific Northwest sides. It starts with a July 4 visit to Portland.
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