FC Kansas City defeated the Washington Spirit for the first time at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland off a goal from Alexa Newfield in the 39th minute. U.S. Women’s National Team player Mallory Pugh made her National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) debut after leaving UCLA to turn professional.
The Spirit were without Tori Huster in the midfield and started Meggie Dougherty Howard. Alyssa Kleiner got the start at left back in the Spirit’s 4-3-3 formation.
FC Kansas City started an attacking corps of Brittany Ratcliffe, Sydney Leroux, and Shea Groom with Newfield underneath and Becca Moros and Lo’eau LaBonta holding behind her.
Kansas City saw early success on the right with Brittany Taylor started an attack by slipping a ball behind Washington’s back line.
Goalkeeper Steph Labbé almost gifted the Blue an early lead in the 13th minute with a heavy touch that Ratcliffe almost got a clean look at but took a fortunate deflection that allowed the Spirit to clear away.
The story of the evening was finishing for Washington — the Spirit created chances but failed to finish them.
In the 24th minute, Kristie Mewis took a cross into the box from Kleiner well but her shot hit the crossbar. Francisca Ordega got a foot on the ensuing rebound but sent her shot high over the crossbar.
Pugh’s willingness to take on attackers was evident and her incisive runs without the ball show a future that could be bright once Washington’s defensive and midfield lines start to become familiar with her and connect passes.
Kansas City’s commitment to team defense continued; Becky Sauerbrunn continued her consistent play in defense, making three clearances on the night.
The teams face each other again next Saturday in Kansas City. With the win, Kansas City improves to 2-2-2 while the Spirit remains at the bottom of the league table at 1-4-1.
Nicole Barnhart recorded her 35th shutout with the win. It’s also Kansas City’s first road win of the season.
Katie Stengel returned for the Spirit after being injured in the game against Orlando