FC Kansas City (5-4-1, 16 points) faces the Washington Spirit (1-5-3, 6 points) for the first time today at 3:10. The Spirit only have one victory and that on the road against bottom of the standings Seattle four games ago. Since the Spirit have failed to score in three straight matches.
FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski does not take Wahington lightly. "Washington is actually a very good team, they are very disciplined and they possess the ball very well in the middle of the field. They have had some unlucky bounces and that is why they are not where I think they belong on the table."
Coach Andonovski will have his full team available for the first time in several weeks. U.S. National team members Lauren Cheney, Becky Sauerbrunn, Nicole Barnhart and Kristie Mewis as well as Canadian National team stars Desiree Scott and Lauren Sesselman have returned to camp. Mexican forward Renae Cuellar played last match despite not being 100% and has had another week to rest and heal.
The Blues played well while the national team players were gone. Even in the loss at home to Chicago was more a sign of fatigue and a short bench than anything. Erika Tymrak, Courtney Jones and Melissa Henderson played very well and look to have made their case for more playing time. With five games in fifteen days, expect to see a more varied lineup from the Blues over this stretch.
"I think we are ready, having the national team players back makes it more exciting for us," explained Andonovski. "It makes the job easier from one standpoint but a little harder from another. Now we've got to get the right lineup on the field."
Having the national team players back does not mean they will start or play the entire match today. ‘We're a little concerned with Cheney," Andonovski admitted. "She played two games and got good minutes in both of them so hopefully she will be fresh enough to play a full game, if not at least three quarters of it."
Washington has given up multiple goals in six of their last seven matches so if Cuellar is healthy and they can feed her the ball, look for some breakaways on goal. The Spirit will also have to be on the lookout for shots from range of the feet of Cheney, Mewis and Tymrak.
Andonovski's team needs to control the game and put the Spirit away to maintain their playoff position and start to climb back towards the top of the table.