Match Report: Kansas City Current advances to NWSL Championship with 2-0 win over OL Reign Kansas City Current

Match Report: Kansas City Current advances to NWSL Championship with 2-0 win over OL Reign

The #5 Kansas City Current’s historic run in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Playoffs will officially last another week after the club earned the most significant win in franchise history Sunday night. In perhaps Kansas City’s most complete performance of the entire 2022 season, the Current bested 2022 NWSL Shield winners #1 OL Reign 2-0 at Lumen Field. Rookie defender Alex Loera opened the scoring with a goal in the fourth minute, then forward Kristen Hamilton scored a crucial insurance goal in the 63rd minute. 

Sunday’s victory marked another chapter in the greatest season-to-season turnarounds in NWSL history. After finishing in last place in 2021 with 16 points, the Current roared through the 2022 season en route to earning its first playoff appearance in franchise history. Now, after winning consecutive playoff road matches in front of record crowds, Kansas City can add at least one more accolade to an incredible season: a first-ever appearance in the NWSL Championship. 

“When I came into the club I understood what it was that ownership had set in terms of the expectation and the ambition that they had shown,” said head coach Matt Potter. “To be perfectly honest it aligned with my own thinking and the way we wanted to play. I was just grateful to have the opportunity to be able to lead the group. I was so excited about the project and I was in a good place. This was something I think everybody would want to be a part of. We get to continue a journey that we've been on all season. It's had everything in there. The fact that we get to play one more game and be together for one more week is pretty darn exciting.”

Much like last weekend’s 2-1 win over the Houston Dash, Kansas City took the lead inside the opening five minutes of the match. Loera’s fourth minute goal came even quicker than last weekend’s opener and marked the fastest goal scored by the road team in an NWSL playoff match. Forward Kristen Hamilton started the scoring move with some pressure in the middle of the park, and Hamilton’s pressure led to a ball down the right flank for forward Cece Kizer to chase. Kizer whipped in a dangerous cross to the feet of midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta in the penalty area, but she couldn’t steer the ball on net. 

However, OL Reign was unable to get the ball cleared, and Loera pounced on the loose ball and slotted it past Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce. For Loera, who started Sunday’s match as a midfield replacement for the injured Claire Lavogez, the goal marked her first since the 2022 Challenge Cup. 

OL Reign began generating scoring opportunities in bunches, but Current goalkeeper AD Franch was up to the task each time. Franch’s first major save of the match came in the 31st minute, when OL Reign forward Jordyn Huitema broke free from Kansas City’s back line and steered a header on net on a cross from fellow forward Megan Rapinoe. Franch made an incredible reactionary stop to push Huitema’s header away and keep the match scoreless, one of seven total saves for the goalkeeper Sunday. 

OL Reign nearly leveled the match on the stroke of halftime on two separate occasions. Midfielder Jess Fishlock struck the post from distance and forced a Franch save on a volley from the top of the penalty area in separate chances two minutes apart, but the match remained 1-0 heading into halftime. 

OL Reign continued to push for an equalizer as the second half began, winning five corner kicks in the opening five minutes. Then, in the 56th minute, Franch made another world-class save to maintain Kansas City’s advantage. Rapinoe found Fishlock in the center of the penalty area and, after shaking a Current defender, Fishlock fired a left-footed shot destined for the bottom corner of the net. Franch dove to deny the effort. 

Seven minutes later, Kansas City had its insurance goal. Following a Franch goal kick, forward Elyse Bennett leaped to win the initial ball and head the ball forward. After OL Reign misplayed Bennett’s forward header, Hamilton picked up the ball just beyond midfield and drove toward the goal. With time to shoot, Hamilton fired from the top of the penalty area with her right foot and slammed the ball past Tullis-Joyce in the bottom corner. Kansas City’s 2-0 lead proved insurmountable, but the team still required some crucial defending and goalkeeping to see the match out. 

In the 74th minute, Loera cleared a Huitema header off the goal line that would have significantly changed the final quarter of the contest. Seconds later, Franch reacted well to deny a dangerous corner kick at the near post that was goal bound. Despite several dangerous opportunities over the last 15 minutes, Kansas City did not concede a shot on target for the remainder match, seeing out the 2-0 triumph. The shutout victory leveled Franch with former Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart for the most playoff shutouts in league history. 

Kansas City now has a date with the Portland Thorns, who won Sunday’s other semifinal against the San Diego Wave, in the NWSL Championship Saturday, Oct. 29 in Washington, D.C. The match will air nationally on both CBS and Paramount + at 7 p.m. CT, with pre-match coverage on Paramount + beginning at 6 p.m. CT. Stay tuned for a schedule of events leading up to the Championship, as well as information on the Current’s watch party in Kansas City. 

The Current and Thorns met twice in the regular season, with Portland winning 3-0 April 30 and the sides drawing 1-1 on Sept. 18. 

NWSL Match Report
Match: 
OL Reign vs. Kansas City Current 
Date: 
October 23, 2022
Venue: Lumen Field, Seattle, Washington
Kickoff: 4:37 pm
Weather: 56, cloudy
Attendance: 21,491

Discipline
none

Scoring
4’ Kansas City– Loera  
63’ Kansas City – Hamilton 

Scoring Summary
Goals                          1           2          F
Reign                         0          0          0
Kansas City               1           1           2                       

Lineups:
OL Reign: 
Tullis-Joyce, Barnes (88’ McClernon), Hiatt, Cook, Huerta, Fishlock, Quinn (88’ Stanton), Rapinoe, Lavelle (88’ King), Balcer (68’ Van der Jagt), Huitema
Substitutes Not Used: Athens, Canales, Ivory, Latsko, López

Kansas City: Franch, Edmonds, Ball, Merrick (64’ Rodriguez), Loera (85’ Leach), LaBonta (85’ Curran), Scott, Kizer (45’ Bennett), Hamilton, Mace, Del Fava
Substitutes Not Used: Logarzo, McCain, Miller, Schneider, Winebrenner

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