Seven Observations From KC Current’s Loss To Racing Louisville + Highlights

The Kansas City Current played its first home game of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup. To say things didn’t go as planned would be an understatement. The team lost 0-3 to Racing Louisville, which up to that point had not won a game in this tournament. Despite the result, there are reasons for optimism. So let’s move on to some observations from the press box on Saturday.

Let’s talk about Training

The broadcast called it 4-3-3, which was not at all.

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Instead, it was clear to me (and supported by the blue testament community member Chzbro in the match thread), they were in a 4-2-3-1. The defense in the image above is correct: AD Franch in goal, Hailie Mace at LB, Alex Loera at LCB, Jenna Winebrenner at RCB, and Kristen Edmonds at RB. Desiree Scott was in midfield, but she was flanked by Chardonnay Curran on a double pivot.

The three advanced midfielders were Kristen Hamilton (LM), Lo’eau Labonta (CAM) and Victoria Pickett (RM). Addie McCain was playing forward.

Now the formation was fluid. Hamilton came out on top at times (and the team looked better when she was there because McCain is a midfielder, not a forward, although she could perhaps play second forward). The three forward midfielders rotated around a group, and that group might look better with Pickett at 10.

The problem is that there are many of these girls who want to play in the center, so the formation did not suit the players.

The Return of Victoria Pickett

Pickett had missed some action due to a concussion, so I was a bit surprised to see her start straight off with an injury. I thought Matt Potter took her out of position by making her a wide midfielder. It seemed to me that “she’s so good you can’t take her off the court,” even though that’s exactly what she did at halftime.

Victoria didn’t have her best game, but I’d put it down to it being preseason, her first game out of injury and what she was asked to do. Edmonds was constantly playing balls over space before Pickett and she just couldn’t get there. That’s not her game. She is very skilled on the ball, even in tight spaces, and seems to be the best dribbler of hers to defenders. If you’re forcing that formation, I’d probably play it at 10, but Lo’s best spot is also midfield, so again, the formation didn’t fit the staff.

Rhythm and Width

The only thing this formation lacked was pace and width with the starters. Hamilton surprised me by winning a few balls from above, so I think she’s quicker than I thought. But, in my opinion, the two fastest starters were Mace and Edmonds. They created most of the width (although Curran did a good job of opening up on offense at times to fill the vacant space when the other midfielder was too narrow).

Edmonds and Mace could probably play further up the field and be effective. Especially Mace. He would have been a perfect fit in one of those midfield roles with the likes of Izzy Rodriguez and Mallory Weber capable of filling the fullback role. Once again, it seemed to me that he was trying to play with his best players, even if the formation didn’t fit.

One thing to watch is how Kansas City adjusts to its new field. It’s much bigger than Legend’s Field and they’ll learn to take advantage of it.

france day

Adrianna Franch returned to the starting lineup after taking a midweek bye. She didn’t get the best game from her. She probably could have done better on the third goal. I give a pass to the second because it was weird and even a bit to the first since it’s an own goal and a bit unlucky.

However, he did have some trouble playing with his feet at times, particularly in the second half when he literally ran into trouble and lost the ball in his own box (how that didn’t end as a goal is a miracle). After Cassie Miller played well midweek (to be fair, she wasn’t tested as much), there’s definitely competition for the starting goalie spot.

the second goal

Watching live, the assistant referee signals that Louisville is out of the game. However, the referee allows play to continue and Lauren Milliet hits him. The referee appears to have determined that because Loera attempted to play the ball, he denies that Louisville is offside. However, she is probably making an effort to play it because she knows the player is after her and she is punished if she gets away.

I think technically it’s the rule, but feel like the wrong call. I know my colleague Thad Bell was the pool reporter at the game and he asked the referee, but when I left there was no answer.

Kansas City was the best team

Go check out the highlights below and you’ll see that KC was all over Louisville. They completely dominated the first half. They were unlucky on the own goal and then the second goal was very strange before the team trailed off a bit on the third. The rebounds alone hypocrisy go like this all season.

At halftime expected goals (xG) were 1.40 for KC and just 0.38 for Louisville. However, Kansas City trailed 1-0. That just won’t keep happening.

Let’s hope Mace is okay.

Just before injury time, Kansas City may have been hit hard. Hailie Mace had moved into one of the wide midfield roles with Rodriguez replacing fullback. He was heading down the left flank and crossed into a ball where the defender cleared it completely. There was nothing in the highlights and no replay was shown in the stadium, but it didn’t look too good. She seemed to be trying not to put weight on him when they helped her out and the Current played stoppage time to a woman because they had no subs. After the game, Matt Potter still didn’t have an update.

Through the first four Challenge Cup games, Mace has been the MVP in my eyes. It’s weird to say that about a fullback, but she’s been very good. The USWNT is always looking for good wingers and Mace is making her case to return to the National Team.

In this game, she sometimes looked a bit tired and at her own goal. I think if she scrambles a little bit more to get into position, that’s a blocked cross rather than a deflection into the net from her, but she’s on the wrong side of McDonald.

Still, this team can’t afford to lose another offensive talent after Lynn Williams missed the season. Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious for Hailie.

Reflexes

These are the game highlights collected by Attacking Third, a CBS sports podcast. I recommend subscribing to them as they put out longer and more well done featured packs than the NWSL.

quick observations

  • Elyse Bennett is a monster out there. So fast. So strong. She got a couple of fouls that amount to girls bumping into her and falling off her because she had her position and is stronger than them. I want to see more of her starting for sure.
  • The rookies are playing pretty well. All five came into the game and were pretty solid for the most part. Huw Williams sure has an eye for talent.
  • Pretty solid attendance for a “preseason” game while the University of Kansas was playing in the Final Four. Over 6300 and I hope it only gets better. What I personally would like to see is a push to fill the stadium. I would imagine that a full stadium, even if you sell the cheapest tickets, would lead to a lot of concessions and merch sales (don’t know though, this might just be my uneducated opinion). I remember doing a survey in the off-season about what I’d pay for certain seats and some of the numbers were astronomical. Probably not the goal with my income, but I could see tons of youth soccer teams and families packing the stands if the prices are right.

Bonus: look at that Tifo

Never mind my typo in the Tweet (I should stick to a keyboard instead of a phone due to my fat typing). Good job to the blue crew! They were also quite loud, considering there were just over 6,000 in the stadium.

amoloans