After 1,305 days, the NWSL returned to Kansas City as KC NWSL hosted the Houston Dash at Children’s Mercy Park. Head coach Huw Williams changed the formation after a 0-1-1 start in the Challenge Cup, hoping that the team would perform better in front of the home crowd, playing in a 4-4-2 with a diamond in the midfield.
The change appeared to pay off as KC started its best attack form of the tournament through the first 10 minutes. Rookie Victoria Pickett dribbled down the middle and found Amy Rodriguez, but ARod was well-marked, and the first opportunity would be denied. It would be Houston, however, who would find the first goal of the night as Kristie Mewis took a left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner in the 25th minute after a bad clearance in the box.
In the 30th minute, KC substituted Chloe Logarzo for Victoria Pickett. The substitution was puzzling, but Huw Williams explained in the post-game press conference that Pickett was struggling with a cold and sore throat. She had a negative step throat test, but she couldn’t breathe after 10 minutes into the game. Pickett has been a coach and media favorite since game one.
[“We love Victoria Pickett. She’s good. She’s able to beat players,” Huw said in the press conference. He hopes that she is able to be more selfish with the ball and become a dangerous player that eventually scores goals for Kansas City.]
Though down one goal, KC did maintain possession, but a questionable call in the box gave the Houston Dash another opportunity at goal. In real time, Rachel Corsie appears to take down Rachel Daly, but in the replay, it looked more like a collision. Nonetheless, there is no VAR in the NWSL, and Daly took the PK for Houston’s second goal.
A return to the second half continued with Kansas City trying to overcome a 2-0 deficit, but Kristie Mewis once again found another opportunity to score in the 71st minute after Nichelle Prince made a solo run toward the goal.
In the 69th minute, Michele Vasconcelos replaced Mariana Larroquette, and the substitution would prove to be big for Kansas City in the 77th minute, at least for Kansas City to leave the game with a goal for the evening. Lo’eau LaBonta dribbled up the middle and found Michele Vasconcelos making a run. Vasconcelos took a right footed shot from the center of the box through the hands of goalkeeper Jane Campbell.
The moment would give the fans at Children’s Mercy Park a reason to celebrate as Vasconcelos’ goal is now KC NWSL’s first home goal ever, but the night ended with a 3-1 loss. Houston earned their first win of the Challenge Cup, and KC remains without a victory.
KC wraps up the Challenge Cup next Monday at Legends Field as they host OL Reign at 7 pm CT.