Kansas City NWSL returned to the pitch for their third game in eight days, traveling to Orlando to face the Pride who came into Sunday’s match in first place. Because it was the third game in a week, head coach Huw Williams decided to give Amy Rodriguez and Victoria Pickett time on the bench. Goalkeeper Abby Smith and defenders Kristen Edmonds and Elizabeth Ball returned. Smith had been injured since the Challenge Cup, Edmonds missed to injury last week, and Ball served a one-game suspension.
The team had a few chances in the first ten minutes. In the fifth minute, on a set piece, Mallory Weber headed the ball from the right side of the box but missed. But KC, as they were trying to get on the scoreboard, was also put on the defensive, and Abby Smith was forced to make crucial saves, including denying an Alex Morgan header.
Orlando kept pressing, and Smith continued to make another important save. At least that what it appeared to be until the assistant referee signaled that Marta’s left-footed shot had crossed the line for a goal. Initially, a header from Alex Morgan was blocked, but Marta’s last touch went over the line.
The replay could not verify that it had indeed been a goal. There was not a good camera angle or goal technology to show if the whole ball crossed the line. The NWSL also does not have VAR, so it had to go on the word/look of the assistant referee, and just like that, Orlando led 1-0 in the 16th minute.
Two minutes later, the Pride nearly made it 2-0 after Sydney Leroux took a left-footed shot from the center of the box, but it was saved. The KC defense was already on alert after giving up an unfortunate goal and continued until the end of the first half.
Kansas City tried to get something going in the second half. The best chance came when Mallory Weber sent a header just wide of the post in the 51st minute. In the 65th minute, Morgan, while making a run, was mildly tripped by defender Katie Bowen. The trip appeared unintentional as Bowen tried to catch up to Morgan, but Morgan did enough to sell the foul and a penalty kick was awarded to the Pride. Orland now had a chance to make it 2-0. Morgan’s shot would hit the right post, however, keeping the game within reach for KC.
Both Amy Rodriguez and Victoria Pickett entered the game in the 68th minute to continue to apply the pressure and find an equalizing goal, but every attempt failed, and Kansas City continued its winless streak to eight, including the four Challenge Cup games.
The win would give Orlando its third win of the week, continuing to hold on to the number one spot in the NWSL. Kansas City now gets a week of rest before returning to the pitch at Legends Field against the Houston Dash.
Full game stats: Here