Match Preview: Kansas City Current squares off with North Carolina Courage for second time in two weeks Kansas City Current

Match Preview: Kansas City Current squares off with North Carolina Courage for second time in two weeks

Following a 1-1 draw in front of a record-setting crowd at Children’s Mercy Park, the Kansas City Current (7-4-5, 26pts, 4th place) are back in action at home to close out the month of August Sunday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. CT against the North Carolina Courage (4-6-4, 16pts, 9thplace). The second meeting in two weeks between Kansas City and North Carolina will be broadcast locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and streamed globally on Twitch. 

Kansas City extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games, the third-longest unbeaten streak in NWSL history, with a 1-1 draw Friday against Angel City. The visitors opened the scoring with a goal from midfielder Cari Roccaro in the 78th minute, but the Current responded immediately. Current midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta beat an Angel City defender to a loose ball in the penalty area and won a penalty kick in the 80th minute. LaBonta converted the attempt for her career-high fifth goal of the season as the match ended 1-1. LaBonta’s fourth penalty kick goal of the season tied her with San Diego Wave forward Alex Morgan for the most in the NWSL. 

North Carolina brings a two-match winning streak into Sunday’s contest after knocking off two playoff-contending squads in impressive fashion. On Aug. 20, the Courage blitzed the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 at home led by three second-half goals. Rookie forward Diana Ordoñez led the way with a brace. Then, Aug. 24, the Courage picked up another stunning home win, a 3-1 triumph over first-place Portland. North Carolina led from the 24th minute onwards after Ordoñez opened the scoring and midfielder Meredith Speck provided the insurance goal in the 83rd minute. The Courage’s victory snapped Portland’s 11-game unbeaten streak, leaving the Current with the NWSL’s longest active streak entering Sunday’s match. 

ANOTHER GOAL FEST? 
When the Current and Courage last squared off Aug. 13, one of the most entertaining contests of the 2022 NWSL Regular Season ensued. Kansas City had to come back from a one-goal deficit on three separate occasions in the 4-3 win, which was capped by Lavogez’s stunning game-winner from long range in the 79th minute. LaBonta and forwards Cece Kizer and Kristen Hamilton scored Kansas City's other three goals in the victory. 

High-scoring affairs have been commonplace for North Carolina in 2022. The Courage enter Sunday’s contest ranking second in the NWSL in goals scored, and third in most goals conceded. The Courage have scored multiple goals in nine of their last 10 contests. Included in those games are some gaudy score lines, like 3-3 draws against the Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns and 4-3 losses to both Kansas City and the Houston Dash. North Carolina is averaging 3.2 goals per game over the last five matches. 

CALLED UP
The Kansas City Current will be well-represented during the Sept. FIFA window, with four Current players selected for their country’s national teams: midfielder Desiree Scott (Canada), midfielder Chloe Logarzo (Australia), goalkeeper Sydney Schneider (Jamaica) and defender Hailie Mace (United States).

Mace is replacing Washington Spirit defender Kelly O’Hara on the United States Women’s National Team’s roster for a pair of friendlies against Nigeria. Mace, who has not appeared for the USWNT since 2018 and has three total caps, has been an integral part of the Current’s ongoing 11-match unbeaten streak. Mace has two goals and two assists for the Current this season and was named to the NWSL July Best XI of the Month. Mace and the USWNT’s first game of the window comes on Sept. 3 against Nigeria at Children’s Mercy Park. 

Scott and Logarzo, meanwhile, are veterans at the international level. Scott has made over 180 appearances for Canada and was a crucial piece of Canada’s run at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship last month. Logarzo is in-line to make her first international appearance since tearing her ACL against Ireland on Sept. 22, 2021. Scott and Logarzo will square off twice during the international break, with Canada and Australia meeting on Sept. 2 and Sept. 6, with both matches held in Australia. 

Schneider rounds out the Current’s quartet of international call-ups. A regular fixture in the Jamaican squad with 18 caps, she will look to see action when the Reggae Girlz play South Korea in Hwaseong, South Korea on Sept. 3. 

MIDFIELD SHAKE UP
Midfielder Claire Lavogez made her much-anticipated home debut in Friday’s match after an impressive showing in the Current’s 4-3 win over North Carolina Aug. 13. Lavogez’s assist and game-winning goal helped the French international win the Budweiser National Women’s Soccer League Player of the Week Award. 

Lavogez started and played 66 minutes in the Current’s 1-1 draw with Angel City, her first start since being acquired June 20. Her previous NWSL appearances against San Diego Aug. 7 and North Carolina Aug. 13 were as a substitute. 

Separate from Lavogez’s arrival in the team’s Starting XI, the Current’s midfield will have a different feel heading into this weekend’s clash against North Carolina. On Monday, Kansas City acquired $200,000 in allocation money from NJ/NY Gotham and either OL Reign’s natural first round pick, currently held by Gotham, or Gotham’s second highest selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft and in exchange for midfielder Victoria Pickett. 

Pickett, the second-ever draft pick in franchise history, was a consistent piece for the Current over the last two seasons. She assisted on the club’s first goal in the 2021 Challenge Cup and scored the game-winning goal against OL Reign Aug. 14, 2021, which marked the first win in franchise history. Pickett appeared in 35 regular season matches for Kansas City and had a goal and an assist in 30 starts.

HISTORIC NIGHT IN KANSAS CITY
Ahead of the Current’s match against Angel City FC, the club encouraged fans to #ShowUpKC to help break the all-time Kansas City attendance record for a professional woman’s soccer match. The club also hoped to break the 10,000-fan threshold. 

Kansas City soccer fans delivered. Not only did the Current set a new attendance record, but the club also achieved its goal of having over 10,000 fans in the stands. Friday night's attendance was 10,395, which surpassed the previous season-high of 7,954 fans set June 4. In addition, the Current vs Angel City match had the highest attendance of any NWSL match played last weekend.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas City Current goalkeeper AD Franch — Keeping a potent Courage offense at bay starts with Franch, who enters Sunday’s match ranked fourth in the NWSL with 50 saves. Franch has recorded three clean sheets thus far in the 2022 regular season, and with one more will become just the second goalkeeper ever to reach 40 career NWSL shutouts. She has recorded a save on 70.4% of shots faced and has appeared in all but one game for the Current in the regular season. Franch has also racked up plenty of individual accolades in 2022, being named to the NWSL July Best XI of the Month while also winning the NWSL Player of the Week award July 13. 

North Carolina Courage midfielder Debinha — With six goals and two assists in the 2022 regular season, Courage midfielder Debinha is one of North Carolina’s most dynamic attacking options. In Wednesday’s victory over Portland, Debinha gave the Courage a crucial two-goal cushion after slipping to the back post and slotting a cross home. She’s no stranger to scoring against the Current either, with a goal when the teams met both on August 13 and in the NWSL Challenge Cup Semifinal on May 4.

MATCH INFO 
Kansas City Current vs. North Carolina Courage 
Sunday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. CT 
Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City, Kansas
Stream on Twitch
Radio on Sports Radio 810 WHB

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