The Kansas City Current opened the 2023 NWSL season with a 1-0 loss at WakeMed Soccer Park. The North Carolina Courage earned the first win of the season on a long distance shot from Mille Gejl. The Courage newcomer slid the shot through traffic and surprised Current keeper AD Franch to take the lead in the 23rd minute.
Kansas City head coach Matt Potter was limited in player selection, not even filling out a full bench because of so many injuries. Potter went with a four-player back line in contrast to last season. The Current typically used three cornerbacks in a three-player backline with two wingbacks a little further up in the midfield in 2022.
Potter started three rookies Michelle Cooper, Alexa Spaanstra and Gabby Robinson with two more on the bench (Rylan Childers and Jordan Silkowitz). Another NWSL newcomer, Mimmi Larsson started as well.
The Courage started strong, putting the Current on the back foot early. In just the second minute, the Courage’s Tyler Lussi slid ball onto Kerolin as she rushed into the penalty area. A quick reaction from Franch kept Kerolin from taking a shot but it set the tone early that Kerolin was going to be dangerous and the Current would have to be aware of the Brazilian forward.
Kerolin created or was the target of more attacks but as the Current seemed to be settling into the match a bit, it was Mille Gejl that put the home side on top. put the hosts on the board. Gejl dribbled down the side and then cut inside before letting a shot go from well outside the box. It was a moment that Franch would have liked to have back.
Franch did come up big on another effort by Kerolin, getting her hand down to deflect a nice low shot across the goal.
Kero threatens to add to the lead late in the half!— NC Courage (@TheNCCourage) March 25, 2023
The Current and North Carolina have similar shot numbers but the Courage put more on frame. While the Courage looked more dangerous overall, the two teams had an almost identical expected goals stat as well. From the NWSL stats, the Courage had .69 XG while Kansas City has .70 XG for the match.
Kansas City had a big advantage in corners with ten compared to just three for the Courage but they could not capitalize on those chances.
The Current returns home for a rematch of the 2022 NWSL Championship, hosting the Portland Thorns in Kansas City’s home opener.
NWSL Match Report
Match: North Carolina Courage vs. Kansas City Current
Date: March 25, 2023
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park
Kickoff: 1:09 p.m. CT / 2:09 p.m. ET
Weather: 66 degrees, cloudy
31’ North Carolina – Kaleigh Kurtz
50’ Kansas City – Kate Del Fava
81’ North Carolina – Mille Gejl
23’ North Carolina – Gejl
Kansas City Current Lineup: AD Franch, Hailie Mace, Gabrielle Robinson (75’ Addisyn Merrick), Elizabeth Ball (87’ Jenna Winebrenner), Kate Del Fava, Alex Loera, Lo LaBonta, Cece Kizer, Alexa Spaanstra (77’ Chardonnay Curran), Michelle Cooper, Mimmi Larsson (75’ Izzy Rodriguez)
Substitutes: Cassie Miller, Jordan Silkowitz, Rylan Childers
North Carolina Courage Lineup: Casey Murphy, Kiki Pickett, Ryan Williams, Kaleigh Kurtz, Emily Fox, Meredith Speck, Denise O’Sullivan, Narumi Miura, Mille Gejl (64’ Olivia Wingate), Kerolin, Tyler Lussi (77’ Rikke Madsen)
Substitutes: Katelyn Rowland, Haley Hopkins, Brianna Pinto, Sydney Collins, Frankie Tagliaferri, Estelle Johnson