The Kansas City Current traveled to Florida looking for their first points in league play against the Orlando Pride.
The first half was a chess match with each side probing their opponents defense for an opening. The two teams went into the scoreless but a pair of good chances for Kansas City may have set the tone for the second half.
At the break, Orlando had the edge in shots, 7-3 but both teams had a pair on goal and the Current had a slight edge in possession.
The Current came out strong in the second half, but the Pride were the first to strike in the 51st minute. The goal was a combination of players with Kansas City connections. Former Kansas City winger Darian Jenkins drove deep on the right side before crossing a cross the box to former FC Kansas City forward Sydney Leroux who half chipped it to Gunny Jónsdóttir. The goal scorer originally came to Kansas City from the dissolution of Utah Royals before being traded to Orlando for Kristen Edmonds.
Kansas City turned up the effort a bit but went into another gear when rookie forward Elyse Bennett subbed in. Bennett did play the last two games for Kansas City, games where they did not get results.
Bennett’s speed and physical presence helped the Current create but in the 78th minute, Bennett was the recipient when Lo’eau LaBonta picked her out on the back post for a header. It was Bennett’s first professional and league goal.
With the game level and momentum in Kansas City’s favor, the team pressed for a game winner. Hamilton almost took the lead in the 86th but Erin McLeod stuffed her. Hamilton was not done in front of goal. Bennett again drove deep into the Orlando end and sliced the ball across the six, Haile Mace lets it slide past to Hamilton. As the clock turned to 90:00, Hamilton side footed a shot past McLeod for a 2-1 lead.
With the Current wanting to hold on to earn their first win in the league, fate and another controversial penalty decision changed their fortunes. After an Orlando corner, Desiree Scott was clearing the ball when an Orlando attacker ran into Scott’s leg. Referee Alexandra Billeter initially gave Scott a yellow and marked the ball outside the box.
If there was a foul, it was inside the box, but the foul could have easily been on the Orlando player that ran into Scott. After some time, the referee withdrew the yellow but pointed to the spot. Adrianna Franch dove the right way but Toni Pressley put the ball past the Current keeper in the 96th to level the score again.
The game finished shortly after, and the Current earned their first point in league play for the season. Kansas City will be back on the road next weekend to face Angel City FC.