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FC Kansas City earns draw in Portland

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The Blues earn a draw after giving up the lead late when the Portland keeper scored

Hagen scored her first of the year
Hagen scored her first of the year
Thad Bell

FC Kansas City earned a 1-1 draw as they returned to action Friday night after almost three weeks off for the Women's World Cup. The Blues traveled to Portland to meet the Thorns for the first time since eliminating them from the playoffs in 2014.

Both the Thorns and FC Kansas City have been struggling compared to previous seasons with numerous players missing for the World Cup and the Blues had lost the last two matches and used the break to get back on track.

"It was one of our better games that we've played this season," FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski said after the match. "Very happy and proud of the girls, unfortunately for us but fortunately for 15,000 fans we got scored on the way did."

In those two previous losses, the Blues had come out flat but that was not the case in Portland. "I was very happy with the change in mentality that we had, the way that we approached the game and was happy with the way we played the majority of the game," Andonovski explained.

Heading into the World Cup break, Andonovski had expressed frustration that some of the players he was counting on to get them through the absence of the national team players had not stepped up. Veterans Sarah Hagen and Erika Tymrak had not made the mark on the matches he had expected.

That changed in Portland. "Apple (Hagen) was very good, she scored a nice goal and almost got another one that went off the post. Erika was very dangerous every time she got the ball. She was looking more like herself, dangerous on the ball and beating players on the run and penetrating with the ball. The other players all did their part, everyone had a role and fulfilled it very well," Andonovski observed.

The match was scoreless at halftime despite a few decent chances but after the half the Blues started to take control and took the lead in the 51st minute when Jen Buczkowski played a restart into the box. Hagen timed it perfectly as she ran into the area while holding off the defenders and looped a header past Portland's keeper, Michelle Betos.

The match took a turn for the worse for the home town Thorns in the 69th minute. FC Kansas City's Shea Groom was late on a challenge to former Blue's midfielder Sinead Farrelly and both players went to the ground hard. Thorns mid McCall Zerboni stepped on Groom's on her way to check on her team mate. Referee Brandon Artis did not hesitate on giving Zerboni a straight red.

The Thorns gathered some momentum and pushed despite being shorthanded and started to create some more chances but it was not until nearly the end of stoppage time when Portland took a couple corner kicks and their keeper came up to help. Betos' header eluded the diving Nicole Barnhart and the ball hit a Blues defender but despite a mad scramble the ball crossed the line for the equalizing goal.

There was little time after the Betos' goal and the game ended in a draw.

"Going in front of 15,000 people at Portland and after the way we played the last time we were here and the way we played in the last two games and if you had told me at halftime it would be a 1-1 draw I would have probably taken it," Andonovski admitted. "I felt very good at halftime with the way we were playing and we knew it was going to happen, a goal was going to come and eventually it did. But then one came the other way. "

The Red Card

Groom is starting to get a reputation for late challenges but that does not excuse what Zerboni did after the whistle. She tried to claim in a tweet that she could not stop her momentum as she was stepping forward. Highlights show that she paused, looked down, took a step on Groom and never looked back.

Any1 who knows me knows i would never intentionally try 2 hurt someone. I simply couldn't stop my momentum as i was already stepping forward

— McCaLL Zerboni (@McCaLL2) June 20, 2015

I will take, accept and understand anything and everything that follows this. My actions are my own.

— McCaLL Zerboni (@McCaLL2) June 20, 2015

These tweets were later deleted.

Highlights