by Brian Turrel
The Kansas City Current locked down an NWSL playoff spot — the first in team history — with a 3-0 win over the Washington Spirit at Children’s Mercy Park Sunday afternoon. After early season disappointments left the team at the bottom of the standings, the Current still has the chance to finish on top.
Nearly ten thousand fans enjoyed the warm early fall weather and bright sunshine, and Lo’eau LaBonta, CeCe Kizer and Clair Lavogez each scored first-half goals to ensure the crowd enjoyed the outcome as well.
The Current pressed high in the early going and created some high-quality chances. CeCe Kizer was aggressive in taking on Spirit dribblers in their own end, and Claire Lavogez won possessions by anticipating and disrupting Washington’s passing lanes.
Kansas City had some great chances in the first few minutes, but was denied by three great saves from Washington goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury.
LaBonta finally got the home side on the board in the 18th minute on a full-field build-up. After the ball crossed the midway line, Alex Loera played it up the right side to Kate Del Fava who beat a challenge from defender Julia Roddar and then lofted a cross to Lo’eau LaBonta centered just outside the 18-yard box.
LaBonta took a touch to settle the ball and then turned on it, blasting it high into the right corner of the goal.
The Current continued the offensive pressure, but mis-timed two opportunities in quick succession, leading to apparent goals waved off for offsides.
Kizer earned the second goal for the Current in the 38th minute, picking up the rebound of a corner kick from Loera and knocking it in from the 6-yard line.
Claire Lavogez wrapped the scoring action just 3 minutes later, picking up Kristen Hamilton’s pass from the endline and tapping it past Kingsbury from close range.
The Spirit made substitutions through the second half and continued to press for a goal, holding possession for long stretches but unable to create dangerous chances against Kansas City’s defense.
The Current will play its final regular season match next Sunday against Louisville FC. Kansas City holds third place in the standings, but final playoff seeding and scheduling will depend on the next week’s outcomes. The top six teams make the playoffs, and the top four will play host to at least one playoff match.