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Seven Observations from the KC Current vs. the Houston Dash

The climb up the league table continues.

Katie Del Fava
Kansas City Current | Imagn

After a nearly two week break in NWSL play due to the international break, the Kansas City Current were back in action on the road against the Houston Dash. Entering the game the Current found themselves climbing the standings after four-straight games unbeaten and the win over Houston (extending that streak to five) would move them up to 7th in the standings and just two points (and one spot) behind the sixth and final playoff spot, currently occupied by Los Angeles’ Angel City FC.

Tactical Adjustments

Something Matt Potter and his staff are known for are making tactical adjustments mid match. They often come in the form in full blown formation changes as personnel switches and game state requires.

A more subtle change was made in this match as wide midfielders/wingbacks, Halie Mace and Katie Del Fava simply switched sides late in the first half. Mace moved from the left to the right and made an immediate impact. She had an enterprising run up the pitch setting up a solid chance, she nearly had another to end the half and then the real payoff came early in the second.

Less than a minute into half number two Mace had drifted from wide right into the middle of the pitch with Lo’eau LaBonta rotating out wide. Cece Kizer would get the ball in the box and take on multiple defenders before cutting a ball back to Mace who would simply pass it into the net (with a bit of a deflection to help). Sometimes there can be too much tinkering with tactics, but this was an adjustment that worked well against Houston.

These Announcers...

The Paramount+ broadcast was a tough one to listen to. First off, the Houston crowd was mostly dead the whole night, which always takes a little ambience out of the broadcast. However, it was the announcers that were the hardest to listen to, in particular the color commentator. I don’t know what her name was, but she seemed unfamiliar with Kansas City and the rule book.

First, she constantly referred to KC as “Kansas,” which is a pet peeve of mine. Sure, they do technically play in Kansas right now, but they train in Missouri and are building a stadium in MO too. Kansas City — two states, one city. Check out the marketing material please.

The other complaint, other than her general lack of excitement talking about the game, is on the penalty kick given against Shea Groom. She kept talking about how the ball didn’t hit her arm it hit Groom’s elbow. Last I checked the elbow is part of the arm. Groom’s arm is also extended away from her body at the time of impact. The angle isn’t great to show if she’s blocking her body, but they are going to call that all day. Inexplicably Groom was also complaining that it just hit her elbow.

The elbow is part of the arm.

Franch was Huge

AD Franch came up huge all night. Sure, some of the great double saves she made were her own fault for spilling the first ball, but she made those saves. Going into the season and early on, I wasn’t convinced Franch was the best keeper on this team. She seemed to not quite be the player she had been in years past.

Another wrinkle in her game was some quick restarts on long balls. Later in the game she sent a nice one to Elyse Bennett who was tugged down just outside the box to give Houston their fifth yellow.

She still has stiff competition from both backup keepers, in particular Cassie Miller, but Franch keeps doing things to solidify herself as the number one and last night was no different.

Quick Observations

  • Elizabeth Ball is this team’s best defender. But she’s good for one or two bad plays every game. This game she had a loose pass that teammates won the ball back on and then an unfortunate own goal late that ended the clean sheet. If she could clean those parts of her game up, I could see her earning a National Team call-up.
  • I thought KC was the better team most of the night. They controlled the first half but Houston still managed the most dangerous chances (that weren’t goals) but the aforementioned Franch came up big. The final pass was lacking for much of the game for KC. In the first half, Cece Kizer had the most dangerous chance for the team. If KC can find that final pass, the goals could come flooding out. Kizer’s second half assist was evidence of that.
  • Kudos to Alex Loera for playing nearly the whole game on a yellow card. Looking at it live, I thought the card was deserving. But on replay, Loera wins the ball and Shea Groom just backs over her and falls down. Groom is the kind of player you only like when she’s on your team. When she was on FC Kansas City, the Blue Crew came to her defense all the time. But she’s a feisty player that is unlikable when she’s in the other jersey.
  • Nine minutes of stoppage time? Really? Thankfully the team had a two goal cushion entering stoppage time. After a 90+9’ minute goal from Houston made things nervy, the rest of the time slipped away unremarkably. Kansas City have go to find a way to stop conceding late. They’ve done it a bunch this year, often costing them results. At least on Friday they still got all three points.

On an unrelated note, the KC Current announced they released goalkeeper Carly Nelson and forward Michele Vasconcelos, who have both been away from the team on loan since the fall of 2021.