Match Preview: Kansas City Current begins second half of 2022 NWSL regular season against OL Reign Kansas City Current

Match Preview: Kansas City Current begins second half of 2022 NWSL regular season against OL Reign

For the first time in nearly a month, the Kansas City Current (4-4-3, 15 pts., 7th place) return to the friendly confines of Children’s Mercy Park for a pivotal contest against OL Reign (4-2-5, 17pts., 4th place) on Sunday, July 17 at 6 p.m. CT. The match will stream on Paramount+. 

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Last Sunday, Kansas City earned back-to-back regular season victories for the first time in franchise history with a 1-0 road win over the Washington Spirit. The win extended the Current’s unbeaten streak to six matches, also a franchise best. Forward Cece Kizer, appearing as a second-half substitute, scored the contest’s lone goal in the 68th minute, as she hustled to find the back of the net following a dangerous cross from defender Kate Del Fava. Current goalkeeper AD Franch secured Kansas City’s victory in stoppage time with an incredible penalty kick save. 

The Reign also bring a modest unbeaten run into Sunday’s contest. June 4 marked OL Reign’s last defeat, and the team is unbeaten in its last four matches, most recently earning a 2-2 draw with the Portland Thorns last Sunday. Reign equalized from down a goal twice against the Thorns, with midfielder Olivia Athens scoring seconds after Portland took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. Portland took a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute, but OL Reign forward Bethany Balcer headed in a cross in the 81st minute to level the match. 

STRIDES SINCE SEATTLE
Sunday’s match is the second and final meeting of the 2022 regular season between Kansas City and OL Reign, but their first matchup proved to be a vital turning point for head coach Matt Potter’s squad.

On May 25, OL Reign beat Kansas City 1-0 at Lumen Field, a result that dropped the Current to 0-4-1 on the season. Despite a heroic performance from Franch, who finished with eight saves, and an organized Kansas City back line, Balcer broke through for the match-winning header in the 80th minute. Missing several players due to COVID, the loss was the second straight for the Current.

After that match in Seattle, the Current began a torrid six-game stretch in which they’ve collected 14 points (four wins, two draws), the most of any NWSL team over that period. The Current remained unblemished through a four-game homestand, and most recently picked up consecutive road victories. The six-game unbeaten streak has the Current tied with the Houston Dash for sixth place. 

CLEAN SWEEP FOR AD
Phenomenal performances for Franch are becoming a weekly occurrence, and her efforts in last Sunday’s win over the Washington Spirit was noticed throughout the league.

Not only did Franch make five stops in Kansas City’s 1-0 victory, but she also saved what would have been the equalizing penalty kick in second-half stoppage time. Franch’s stellar play secured both the win and a clean sheet. Her five-save performance improved her total for the 2022 regular season to 40, the second-highest total in the NWSL. 

Franch’s performance earned her recognition for the NWSL Save of the Week and the Week 10 Budweiser NWSL Player of the Week. Voted on by fans, this is the first awards for AD this season. Kansas City’s Kristen Edmonds and Elyse Bennett were the Challenge Cup Week 5 Save of the Week and Player of Week, respectively. 

HOMETOWN HEROES
The Kansas City Current is honoring the heroes that make Kansas City special on Sunday night. Sunday’s match at Children’s Mercy Park is “Hometown Heroes Night” presented by First Federal Bank of Kansas City.

During the match, the Current will honor military personnel, first responders and nonprofit leaders. In addition, the organization will recognize individuals whose efforts support and advance the local community.   

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas City Current forward Cece Kizer — Despite only appearing in four games since being acquired from Racing Louisville FC, Kizer has already provided a sizable boost for Kansas City’s offense. The former Blue Valley Northwest product has a propensity for the big occasion, with her goals and assists as a member of the Current all coming at crucial moments. When Kansas City trailed for its only stretch of play over its ongoing unbeaten streak, it was Kizer who leveled the match against Chicago with a thunderous strike on June 18. In Kansas City’s next match against the Houston Dash on July 1, Kizer provided the assist for what would become the match-winning goal. Her game-winning goal against Washington last Sunday marked her second of the 2022 campaign. 

OL Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce — OL Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce is the only goalkeeper in the league with more saves than Franch. Tullis-Joyce's 41 saves entering Sunday’s match ranks first in the league and is a remarkable development considering she had yet to make an NWSL start prior to the 2022 season. In addition, Tullis-Joyce has an 83.7% save success rate and has six clean sheets, which ranks first in the NWSL. Prior to allowing two goals against Portland, Tullis-Joyce had allowed just one goal in her last five matches. 

MATCH INFO 
Kansas City Current vs. OL Reign
Sunday, July 17 at 6:00 p.m. CT 
Children’s Mercy Park– Kansas City, Kansas
Stream on Paramount+

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