Kansas City NWSL returned to Legends Field for their season home opener against the Chicago Red Stars, a team they were already familiar with having faced them on April 21st in Chicago in second game of the Challenge Cup. That game was a 1-1 draw. There was that hope that on a day where the Kansas City metro celebrated women’s soccer returning to the area, that the club would finally get their first win of 2021.
Playing in front of 5,272 fans, KC had plenty of chances to score in the 9th minute, with a header by Marianna Larroquette and then by Amy Rodriguez and then a shot by Darian Jenkins. KC NWSL could have taken the lead in the 16th, 20th, 26th, and 41st minute, but Chicago began to gain control as the half progressed, and nearly scored in the 35th minute. KC mustered all they had to keep the ball out of the net.
Even though both teams had an equal amount of chances, the Red Stars looked like the stronger team, keeping a tight midfield and closing down the KC attack as the half neared the end.
The second half was not kind to KC. Having played their second game in three days, the KC NWSL attack began to slow down, not looking quite as dominant as they did in the opening minutes of the first half. Chicago brought two substitutions in the 60th minute: Kealia Watt and Mallory Pugh, both with US National Team experience. It was the change the Red Stars needed to take the lead.
With an assist by Pugh, who took the ball on a fast break, Watt took a left footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. KC Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart did not react fast enough, and Chicago had the 1-0 advantage in the 67th minute.
In the 70th minute, the Red Stars would double their lead to 2-0. KC midfielder Desiree Scott gave away the ball to Chicago’s Makenzy Doniak, who passed to Pugh to find the space to receive the ball back. Doniak took a left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner for the goal.
It was not the home opener Kansas City wanted, continuing a winless streak of 7 games, being shut out for the second time in 2021. The team has a quick turnaround again, heading to Orlando to play the Pride on May 30th at 5pm CT.