The Kansas City Current have finally found the type of form that was expected heading into the 2023 season. Much of that can be attributed to the return of Elizabeth Ball to the back line and the integration of Morgan Gautrat into the midfield.
The two are stabilizing presences in the middle of the park: one helping to control the game and the other communicating and organizing the final line of defense.
The equation is simple: When Gautrat and Ball are on the field, the Current have only conceded three goals. They’ve conceded 26 without them paired together.
The sample sizes are skewed, but with the duo on the field, the Current concede at a rate of one goal every 111 minutes. Without them, that mark becomes one goal every 46 minutes. The eye test shows it’s no coincidence, and the results are starting to follow.
The Current have already dug a deep hole with how the season began. With eight regular-season games left, they’re five points away from the playoff line and can ill afford another drop in form.
But if they’re going to get into the mix, Ball and Gautrat will have played a major role.
“I’m new to the team, but I think you can (notice) the leadership (Ball) brings in the back,” Gautrat said. “The communication and having everyone organized, I think, is so important.”
Both players bring an added experience level to the middle that has been missing.
Ball pointed out that she and Gautrat have many years of experience playing against the players they see every week. And while rookie defenders like Croix Soto and Gabrielle Robinson have impressed at times, that experience helps take the defense to a different level.
“Being able to have experienced players and really good, quality players through the middle has been an added bonus,” Gautrat said. “Obviously, we’re trying to work to get back to our full potential and being 100% after injury, but I think that’s what we’re focused on: helping the team be organized and stable and bring a presence that’s calming.”
One thing that might have been different for Ball in her return is the team’s move to a back four. That directly affects her role, as she played as the center of three defenders during the team’s run in 2022.
“I think that for me, it’s a little bit more side to side,” Ball said, “Which I kind of like to be able to move a little, be a little bit more free.”
“I think our team is embracing the back four, and we’re really getting into our stride with it,” Ball said. “It is suiting us well, and hopefully we can continue to progress and learn each other’s tendencies along the road.”
Debinha named to NWSL Team of the Month for June
Before heading down to Australia and New Zealand with Brazil for the World Cup, Debinha tore up the NWSL in the month of June. Her four goals and an assist in all competitions were among the highest totals in the month for any NWSL player. Thus, she was selected to the league’s team of the month.
This is the second time in 2023 she’s earned this honor, making the team of the month for March/April.
The Current take on Racing Louisville on Friday evening from Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Central.
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