FC Kansas City resumed their winning ways at Verizon Wireless Field on Sunday afternoon with a 2-0 defeat of the Washington Spirit in the two sides’ first meeting of the season.
Forward Renae Cuellar started the match on the bench for FCKC while the Spirit’s Diana Matheson sat with an ankle injury. Recent Spirit signing Conny Pohlers made her season debut but had little to do as FCKC dominated possession from the first kick.
They were rewarded early with an 18th minute shot from distance by midfielder Lauren Cheney. Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made an acrobatic attempt at a save, but the force of the strike pushed the ball past Harris’s outstretched arm and into the back of the net.
The first half’s 1-0 score line did little to reflect the dominance of FCKC’s performance, and the Blues continued their push in the second. Renae Cuellar came on in the 60th minute and quickly broke away on a counterattack, working through the Spirit defense to deliver a shot deflected by Harris. The deflection fell directly to FCKC’s Merritt Mathias, who crossed to Cheney for a wide open volley and her second goal of the match.
Washington’s strongest opportunity came in the 71st minute, as Jasmyne Spencer bested FCKC keeper Nicole Barnhart but bounced her shot off the right post, preserving the shutout for Barnhart. Harris faced a rough day as the Blues outshot the Spirit 18-6.
“We had a tough time creating chances and when we did we couldn’t catch a break,” Spirit head coach Mike Jorden said. “We’ve got to hold our heads up, learn from this and keep playing and fighting.”
The additional 3 points put the 6-4-1 Blues alongside the WNY Flash with 19 points in the NWSL standings, but the WNY Flash hold on to 3rd place on goal differential. The 1-6-3 Spirit remain in 7th and extended their scoreless streak to 336 minutes.
FCKC travels to New Jersey for a Wednesday match against Sky Blue FC before returning to their home field to take on budding rivals the Portland Thorns on Sunday.
The Spirit next challenge the WNY Flash on Friday at Sahlen’s Stadium before a rematch against FCKC at home on July 3.