The Kansas City Current got the lead early in Friday night’s match against Racing Louisville but couldn’t make it last, falling 2-1 on the road.
“We didn’t reach the level that we should to compete against Racing Louisville,” interim head coach Caroline Sjöblom said. “I’m disappointed with the performance. It’s a frustrated feeling.”
Before that frustrated feeling, things actually got off to a strong start for KC.
The Current got on the board inside the first 10 minutes thanks to another penalty kick conversion from Michelle Cooper. The Current had controlled the action leading to the goal, but then they quickly lost their way.
They struggled to string together passes, completing only 73% in the match. Morgan Gautrat’s presence in the midfield wasn’t enough to make up for the absences of Vanessa DiBernardo and Lo LaBonta.
“We need to be able to connect through the midfield when we get pressured like we did today,” Sjöblom said. “If we had more possession in the midfield, we could have played out of Louisville’s (pressure) with the numbers because we play with three and they played with two. But today, we couldn’t do that.”
And that led to more chances for Racing Louisville.
For the second week in a row, the Current’s opponent took more than 20 shots. Two of Racing Louisville’s 26 shots passed AD Franch, who played well in her first match since May.
Franch still made a total of seven saves, one of which was her 400th career save.
“She has been working extremely hard when she hasn’t been playing games,” Sjöblom said. “She was one of the players that really showed up for the game and she made important saves when she needed to.”
The Current got lucky shortly after scoring, when Racing Louisville’s Abby Erceg put the ball in the net. However, the assistant referee spotted that the ball came directly off Erceg’s arm and into the net and rightfully disallowed the goal.
But it didn’t take much longer for Louisville to get on the board, thanks to a powerful strike from defender Elli Pikkujämsä. Then, not even a minute into the second half, Paige Monaghan blasted a strike from distance into the top corner, stunning the Current and making the score 2-1.
It took nearly 30 minutes for the Current to recover, and they started to pressure the Louisville net over the final 10 minutes. But they couldn’t seem to get the right shot.
To make matters worse, Cece Kizer came off in the first half with an ankle injury. She was carried off the field, unable to put weight on it. She will be evaluated when the club returns to KC this weekend.
In positive injury news, the Current got Alex Loera back late in the match.
“It was surreal being able to play again,” Loera said, “just to be out with the girls and try to contribute any way that I can.”
The Current have a much-needed break from league play coming over the next month. Their next NWSL match will be on August 18 against OL Reign after the World Cup break.
During the league break, they’ll have three Challenge Cup matches, giving opportunities to players like Loera, Hanna Glas, LaBonta and Hailie Mace to fully reintegrate to the squad for the stretch run. But first, they have a week off coming up.
“We haven’t really had a deep bench this entire year,” Cooper said. “As soon as we get someone back, we lose someone else to injury, and I think it’s gonna be really important for us to take that time off and to regroup and come back stronger than we were before.”
The Current’s next match will be at home against the Houston Dash at 7 p.m. on July 22 in Challenge Cup play.
This story was originally published July 7, 2023, 9:35 PM.
Related stories from Kansas City Star