BOYDS, Md. — Saturday’s game against the Washington Spirit started well for FC Kansas City; Heather O’Reilly got the defending champion Blues on the board in the 6th minute. But despite having numerous opportunities in the game, Kansas City was unable to get on the score sheet again, conceding three unanswered goals to the Spirit in a 3-1 loss.
After two games, Kansas City sits in 7th place in the National Women’s Soccer League, with two losses and a minus-3 goal differential. The Blues have managed just one goal in 36 shots.
This isn’t the start that many envisioned the defending champions having — or is it? While the team has found itself on the right side of the scoreline more often than not since beginning play in 2013, FC Kansas City has struggled during stretches in the past. Notably, at the beginning of last season, the Blues managed just one point in its first three games.
FC Kansas City Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski says that it can go one of two ways for his squad: They can either fall apart or the struggles can make the better as a result, like it has before.
“In previous two years, we came out stronger and this time what is going to happen? I don’t know,” Andonovski admitted. “Of course, we are going to have to analyze the game and see what it is that we can do different and we can do better but starting from me, I have to analyze myself and see what it is that I should do different as a coach because obviously as a coach I feel like I had the biggest part in the loss. Every player has a little bit of it too.”
O’Reilly felt like part of Saturday’s loss was losing momentum. She stated the importance of the team keeping their “foot on the pedal” when they do have momentum. O’Reilly feels the team will get over these losses by each player taking a look at what she can do better.
“One thing that Vlatko has emphasized is that everyone can look in the mirror and ask themselves, ‘What can I do better?’” O’Reilly said. “And that’s how we’re going to just bounce back from these two early losses and I have a lot of faith in the talent of the this team and the level of this team. We’re going to be fine.”
Defensively, captain Becky Sauerbrunn keyed in on the fact that two of the Spirit’s goals were generated from turnovers in the middle of field. This is something that Kansas City will want to address before Thursday’s game against Seattle, especially given the Reign’s high-pressure style of play.
The Blues will need to find answers quickly given the short turnaround before the 2014 championship rematch. With Seattle losing to Chicago 3-2 on Saturday as well, Thursday’s match has taken on added significance. The stakes appear to be raised in a match that plenty circled when the NWSL schedule was released. Will the Blues, who lost momentum Saturday night, lose even more of it before heading into May, or will they turn it around? Thursday’s match kicks off at 8 p.m. ET at Swope Soccer Village.
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