MATCH PREVIEW: KC Current hosts the North Carolina Courage in 2023 NWSL UKG Challenge Cup Semifinal Kansas City Current

MATCH PREVIEW: KC Current hosts the North Carolina Courage in 2023 NWSL UKG Challenge Cup Semifinal

For the second straight season, the Kansas City Current (4-1-1, 13 pts.) hosts the North Carolina Courage (3-1-2, 11 pts.) for the chance to play for the UKG NWSL Championship. The 2023 NWSL UKG NWSL Challenge Cup semifinal kicks off from Children’s Mercy Park Wednesday, September 6 at 7 p.m. CT. The match will broadcast on CBS Sports Network with Jacqui Oatley and Lori Lindsey on the call. Fans can also tune in to hear Dave Borchardt and Jillian Carroll Letrinko on KC Current Radio, available on the KC Current App.

This semifinal matches the tournament’s top two scoring teams in Kansas City (14 goals) and North Carolina (15 goals). In addition, these teams boast the number two (Kansas City, 4 goals allowed) and number three (North Carolina, 5 goals allowed) defenses in the tournament.

The Current is undefeated at home, earning three wins at Children’s Mercy Park in this year’s tournament. The Kansas City faithful have seen their team score 10 goals, while only allowing one. Alternatively, North Carolina has split the road games this season with a win, a draw and a loss. Away from home, the Courage have scored three goals while allowing four, including a 2-0 shutout loss to NJ/NY Gotham on August 5.

Kansas City Current midfielder Hailie Mace –
Mace already holds the NWSL all-time record (7) and a tie for the club record in Challenge Cup assists (4). Against North Carolina, she has the chance to close out the tournament and permanently etch her name in the record books.

North Carolina forward Brittany Ratcliffe – Ratcliffe leads the Courage in the Challenge Cup with 3 goals. She is very familiar with Kansas City, having played here with FC Kansas City and then being named to Kansas City’s original roster in 2021. The speedy forward has the ability to stretch defenses and strike quickly.

Kansas City Current forward Kristen Hamilton thrives in the Challenge Cup. She holds the club record for most tournament goals all-time (10) and is tied with teammate Debinha for most in NWSL history (12). She is the only player in NWSL history to score a Challenge Cup hat-trick, a feat she achieved this year in a 3-0 victory over the Houston Dash July 22. She only needs one more goal this tournament to break her own club record for most goals in a single season (5). Finally, she only needs 89 minutes to reach 1,000 Challenge Cup minutes for Kansas City. No player has reached that number to date.

Kansas City Current vs North Carolina Courage games have been some of the most exciting in the NWSL over the past two seasons. In 2022 after falling 2-1 to the Courage in the Challenge Cup semifinals, the Current earned 4-3 and 3-2 wins over North Carolina in the regular season. The 2023 matches haven’t seen the same high scores, but plenty of excitement. In the club’s first meeting, North Carolina opened the season with a 23rd minute goal from forward Mille Gejl over Kansas City. Then, later in the season, the Current rode an eighth minute score from forward Kristen Hamilton to a home win. 

The Challenge Cup semifinal is a ‘knockout’ round, with only the winner advancing in the tournament. Unlike group play and regular season games, this match cannot end in a draw. Should the teams be tied at the end of the 90 minutes, the match will proceed directly to penalty kicks to decide the winner. Only players on the field at the end of regulation will be eligible to participate as the action will move to the North end of Children’s Mercy Park. Each team will get a chance to take five shots from the penalty spot. If the match is still tied, then the penalty kicks will continue, one by one until there is a winner.

Kansas City Current midfielder Debinha and defender Lauren both hail from Brazil, which celebrates its independence on September 7. With a large Brazilian population in Kansas City, the Current will celebrate Brazilian culture with music from Brazilian DJ BB and free samples of Taste of Brazil’s pão de queijo (cheese bread) on the Mazuma Plaza during Wednesday’s pregame festivities. Additionally, prior to the match, fans can visit Mazuma Plaza for a pre-match party featuring face painting, sign making, a caricature artist, temporary tattoos and the Teal Mobile for all the latest KC Current merchandise.



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