After a grueling six games of the 2022 Challenge Cup, the Kansas City Current turned their attention to the opening game of the 2022 NWSL season with a trip to Portland to face the Thorns FC. It would be the first meeting between the clubs for the season, with Kansas City seeking their first win against Portland. The Current, having earned a draw in their last meeting in October 2021, came to Providence Park hoping to continue their success of the Challenge Cup into the the first game of the season.
With the Challenge Cup semifinal coming up on Wednesday, head coach Matt Potter made changes to the lineup with a 4-3-3, with Desiree Scott, Taylor Leach, and Kristen Hamilton on the bench. They were interesting changes to the starting XI against a strong Portland team, perhaps in preparation for the Challenge Cup semifinal game against North Carolina on Wednesday, or perhaps to test the team’s depth.
And from the beginning, the changes would hurt the Current. Portland came out pressuring the back line of Rodriguez, Ball, Winebrenner, and Weber. It would only take eight minutes for the Thorns to grab their first goal of the game with Morgan Weaver taking a left-footed shot for the 1-0 lead.
To make matters worse, KC defender Mallory Weber went down shortly after with a non-contact injury, grabbing her knee in pain. She was subbed off in the 19’, being carried off by the athletic trainers. Alex Loera subbed in.
Not much happened for Kansas City in between. A few bright spots for the Current were chances by forward Elyse Bennett, but the Thorns would score their second goal in the 34th minute. Christine Sinclair’s left-footed shot from close range went in, scoring her 55th NWSL goal.
Portland’s 13 shots, 10 on target, and 58% possession to the Current’s 2 shots, 0 on target, and 42% possession would tell the story of a dominating first half for the Thorns. Kansas City’s starting XI could not keep up with the Thorns’ press, spending much of the half trying to defend.
Kansas City made a change at the start of the second half, Desiree Scott replaced Addie McCain. It would not be enough, however, as Portland scored its third and final goal of the game. Assisted by Meghan Klingenberg, Sophia Smith, from the right side of the box, took a right-footed shot to extend the lead, securing Portland’s first win of the 2022 season.
With Kristen Hamilton replacing Elyse Bennett, Victoria Pickett coming if for Lo’eau LaBonta, and Taylor Leach subbing in for Chardonnay Curran, the Current attempted to change the tempo of the game, but by then, the game was too much in Portland’s control as the Thorns continued to dominate the game, and the Current losing their first game of the season, 0-3.
The Kansas City Current return to Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday to host the semifinal of the 2022 Challenge Cup against the North Carolina Courage. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm CT.