Current return to home match tonight in KCK

Following a week-long break, the Kansas City Current (5-4-3, 18 pts., T-4th place) return to action at Children’s Mercy Park against the Orlando Pride (3-5-4, 13 pts., 8th place) at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 31.

The match will be streamed nationally on Paramount+ and broadcast locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB.

The Kansas City Current bring a seven-match unbeaten streak into Sunday’s match against the Pride, with the most recent positive result a 1-0 win over OL Reign July 17.

In a match that featured 36 combined shots, the Current were able to find a breakthrough in the 18th minute when midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta drilled a penalty kick into the top corner of the goal after a foul won by midfielder Victoria Pickett in the goal box.

Goalkeeper A.D. Franch recorded five saves in the win, including a diving save to her left on Reign forward Kim Little that earned her a second-straight Save of the Week award.

Orlando also brings an unbeaten streak into this match. The Pride are sitting on three games without a loss after earning a positive result in its most recent match. The Pride turned in a stout defensive performance in a 0-0 road draw with the Washington Spirit July 17. Orlando weathered 17 total shots from Washington, spurred on by five saves from goalkeeper Erin McLeod.

Current advancing in standings

Kansas City’s ongoing unbeaten streak has taken the club to previously unforeseen heights. The Current’s win over OL Reign improved the team’s point total to 18, which marks the highest single season point total in franchise history. The Current is tied in points for fourth place in the NWSL table, the club’s highest-ever place in the league’s standings.

The unbeaten streak has been met with impressive on-field play. Since May 27, Kansas City ranks first in the NWSL in total points (17), wins (5) and winning percentage (.857). Defensively, the Current are tied for first place in the NWSL for fewest goals allowed (5) and most shutout victories recorded (4). Kansas City’s four shutouts in its last seven matches include two in row, and the team hasn’t conceded since its July 1 win over the Houston Dash.

Franch goes back-to-back

Franch has been an integral piece of the Current’s unbeaten streak, and one of her saves against OL Reign stood above the rest. In the 22nd minute, Reign midfielder Kim Little received a through ball from fellow midfielder Jess Fishlock on a give-and-go, which gave Little an open shot on Franch from 12 yards out. Franch made a diving stop to deny Little’s goal-bound effort and the ensuing rebound went wide, effectively ending the opportunity.

Franch’s stop was rewarded with the Verizon NWSL Save of the Week award, the second consecutive week that Franch has received the honor. Her five saves against OL Reign brought her total for the year to 44 saves, which ranks third in the NWSL.

Tonight’s match could see a number of goals

Despite the Current’s recent run of stout defensive performances, an offensive match could be on the cards Sunday evening.

When Kansas City and Orlando first met in the regular season May 14, the match took off in the second half with four goals over the second 45 minutes. The Pride opened the scoring in the 51st minute, but Kansas City responded with goals from forwards Elyse Bennett and Kristen Hamilton in the 78th and 91st minutes.

Orlando leveled the match in the 90+6 minute with a penalty kick, which stood as the last action of the match. The 2-2 draw marked the Current’s first points of the 2022 NWSL regular season.

The Pride are no strangers to high-scoring affairs in 2022. Orlando enters Sunday’s match having conceded 26 goals, the most in the NWSL, while scoring 12 goals. The Current’s confident offensive attack looks to breach the Orlando back line, but a secure defensive performance from Kansas City could key a positive result Sunday.

Players to watch

Kansas City Current midfielder Claire Lavogez — The Current did not sit idle during the week off. The team announced the addition of French midfielder Claire Lavogez July 20. Lavogez will look to contribute her playmaking abilities to a talented midfield that features LaBonta, Pickett and captain Desiree Scott. The veteran midfielder has experience on the international stage with both the French youth and senior national teams. She has played her entire professional career in France’s top division to this point but should be available to make her NWSL debut in Sunday’s match.

Orlando Pride forward Darian Jenkins — Jenkins, an NWSL veteran, was Kansas City’s leading scorer last season. After arriving in Orlando via trade this offseason, she has been a mainstay of Orlando’s lineup. Her 983 minutes played ranks third on the team, and she’s started 11 of the Pride’s 12 matches. The forward has two goals for the Pride in 2022, including a goal against Washington May 27 that marked the latest goal in NWSL regular season history.

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