Western New York Flash fans were anticipating this week’s matchup with the Kansas City Blues and the debut of Carli Lloyd in the Flash uniform. The NBC Sports “NWSL Game of the Week” lived up to its billing on Saturday night in front of 2,738 fans.
The match started off a bit slow as both teams were trying to maintain possession and create quality chances. In the 6th minute of play, the Flash were awarded a corner kick. Adriana made a beautiful cross to Kerr but she headed it off the line and it was cleared by FC Kansas City’s Merritt Mathias.
The first goal of the match arrived in the 34th minute, when Abby Wambach scored her second goal of the NWSL Season. Flash defender Brittany Taylor completed a long pass to Veronica Perez who flicked it onto Wambach who was able to catch defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Lauren Sesselman, out of position and easily finish with her left foot.
One minute later FCKC’s Krisite Mewis took a long shot that hit off the crossbar and Sinead Farrelly was right there for the rebound but she shot it right into Flash’s keeper Adrianna Franch.
The Flash began to punish the Blues for their mistakes when Sesselman and Mathias had a miscommunication and Wambach intercepted the ball and did what she does best, fire it into the net giving the Flash a 2-0 lead.
When asked after the match about her two goals, Wambach said:
“One of them I got lucky in terms of a defensive turnover. And the other one, you dream of those where everything happens like it’s supposed to and you actually finish it like you envisioned.”
Wambach almost had the second hat trick in NWSL history when got her head on a cross by Katherine Reynolds but goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart was there for the stop.
Going into halftime the Flash lead 2-0. Kansas City looked out of sync during the first half and if they wanted any chance of a comeback they would need to start finishing their chances.
“That was a fantastic first half of football today. I thought the girls were brilliant,” said Flash Head Coach Aaran Lines. “We didn’t give them a square inch in the first half, minus the distant shot from Mewis. Once we figured out that Mewis had a left foot, we were able to keep her relatively quiet in the second.”
45 minutes is a long time to score two goals and Kansas City wasn’t going to do down that easy. What they needed was a quick goal coming out of the half and in the 52nd minute they would get that crucial goal.
The chance was created by Mewis when she faked the shot and passed it to Leigh Ann Robinson who crossed it to Lauren Cheney and she flicked it into the net. Just like that, it was 2-1.
In the 64th minute the fans got what they were anxiously waiting for, the debut of Carli Lloyd. She had missed the first four games due to a shoulder injury she had recieved when she was with the U.S. National Team at the Algarve Cup. As soon as Lloyd stepped on the field, she was able to create a few quality chances, but unfortunately none of them went in.
“It was a lot of fun out there. I enjoyed it. I took a fall on my first touch of the game and shoulder feels good – testing it out early.” Lloyd said after the game.
With 20 minutes left the Blues were starting to apply full pressure and you could tell they were really stepping up their game.
In the 74th minute Cheney sent a ball into Buczkowski who was able to sneak in behind the defenders, but Franch was there to stop it.
With the minutes ticking down Kansas City tried to find that equalizing goal but the Flash did a great job protecting their goal and clearing out any crosses they came upon.
The Flash recorded their second win of the season and Kansas City suffered their first loss of the season.
As of now the Flash (2-2-1) and Kansas City (2-1-1) are tied for 4th place in the league.
FC Kansas City will host the Boston Breakers on Saturday while the Western New York Flash have a week off before the Chicago Red Stars come to town on May 24th.
Reporter Caitlin Murray contributed to this report.