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A new system brings defensive questions for Kansas City Current

William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, three-back systems were in vogue in the National Women’s Soccer League. The Kansas City Current stuck with theirs throughout the campaign to turn around a last-place finish in 2021 to an appearance in the NWSL Championship a year later.

Two games into the new season, the Current look like a shadow of themselves, and their two losses have come with the team playing in a different system featuring a more traditional back four. A season-opening, 1-0 loss on the road to the North Carolina Courage raised some question marks about the new look of the back four, and Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Portland Thorns in a much-anticipated rematch of last year’s final underscored concerns.

Yes, Kansas City is without several top players due to injuries, and yes, it is two matches into a long season in a league that often sees early form regress to the mean for teams. How the Current have looked in these two, season-opening losses — specifically defensively, where fewer reinforcements are waiting in the wings — should bring questions about how the team moves forward.

It took about 120 seconds for Crystal Dunn to find the net on Saturday and put the Thorns ahead, 1-0. Kansas City spent the rest of the half under siege, conceding a second goal from the penalty spot and dodging a deeper deficit on multiple occasions. By halftime, the Thorns had outshot the Current 11-1.

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