KC Current shuts out Houston, 3-0, to retain first place in Central Division

The Kansas City Current continued its unbeaten run in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup with a 3-0 win over the Houston Dash Wednesday in Texas.

Taylor Leach and Lo’eau LaBonta both scored their first goals of the season while Kristen Hamilton added a second to her tally. Goalkeeper Cassie Miller got her first start with the Current to lead the team to its first shutout in 2022.

“[Scoring first was] something we’ve talked about on reflection of the last two games if we want to be the team that we want to be,” head coach Matt Potter said. “We’ve shown that we can compete, but there’s probably a better way to do it than we have been doing it, which is obviously to try to get the first goal. Especially when we’re on the road, when you know teams are going to be the aggressor.”

Kansas City’s first goal came in the second minute, the fastest goal ever scored both in club and Challenge Cup history. Hailie Mace swung a corner kick low into the box to find Taylor Leach, who perfectly volleyed the ball past Jane Campbell into the top left corner. Mace became the all-time leader in assists in the Challenge Cup with her fifth.

In the 28th minute, defender Maddie Nolf slid a smooth pass into the box to rookie striker Elyse Bennett. Bennett chipped it over the back line to find Kristen Hamilton, who buried it in the back of the net. It was Bennett’s first start and first assist of the season.

Bennett got her second assist of the season in the second half with a calm through ball past the Houston back line. LaBonta charged past the defenders to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper and chipped it in for Kansas City’s third goal.

Kansas City’s steady defense silenced most of the Dash attack, but Cassie Miller came up big when required. In the 10th minute, Houston midfielder Makamae Gomera-Stevens found herself with the ball at the top of the 18-yard box. She launched a shot toward the left side of the goal, but Miller came up big to punch it over the crossbar.

The Kansas City Current remain undefeated in the 2022 Challenge Cup with seven points in the Central Division. The team returns home to take on Racing Louisville FC at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas.

Season tickets and flex plans are available for all home matches at Children’s Mercy Park. For ticket information, visit kansascitycurrent.com.

  • Story from KC Current

KC Current to play Chicago Friday

The Kansas City Current continue the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup against the Chicago Red Stars at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 25, from SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois. The match will stream live on Paramount+.

Kansas City comes into the match following an opening week draw against Racing Louisville.

Midfielder Addie McCain scored her first professional goal in the 76th minute, pulling the Current even at 1-1.

Despite the score, Kansas City dominated the match in nearly every statistical category. Kansas City’s offense had a league high 24 shots, with nine on target while the team held a nearly 55% possession advantage.

The Chicago Red Stars opened its Challenge Cup schedule last week on the road against the Houston Dash with a 3-1 victory. Forward Mallory Pugh scored two goals with defender Arin Wright scoring a penalty kick in between.

Last meeting

Kansas City traveled to Chicago in October for the team’s final road match of the 2021 season. After an unfortunate bounce led to an early Red Stars goal, defender Hailie Mace scored her first goal with Kansas City late in the opening half. Chicago forward Makenzy Doniak found the game-winner early in the second half, halting a two-game unbeaten streak for KC.

Rookie contributions

All five rookie players on the Kansas City Current roster saw time in last week’s opening Challenge Cup match, with defenders Alex Loera and Jenna Winebrenner starting and playing the full 90 minutes at center back.

“Jenna and Alex have done nothing but stand tall and be accountable for their performance. They showed that they belong on this stage,” head coach Matt Potter said. “The way they went about handling what I believe is one of the best players in this league, in terms of their forward, Jess McDonald. I thought that they handled it very well for a first outing in Challenge Cup.”

Midfielder Chardonnay Curran, defender Izzy Rodriguez and forward Elyse Bennett found their way into the match in the second half. All three contributed to the team’s second half comeback, with Bennett nearly able to find the game-winner late in the match.

Players to watch

Kansas City Current: Forward Kristen Hamilton — Hamilton heads into her eighth NWSL season with three championships, 108 matches and 17 goals. Coming to Kansas City in a blockbuster midseason trade last season, Hamilton has become one of this team’s leaders. Pairing with midfielder Sam Mewis, she looks to improve the Current’s offensive output throughout the season.

Chicago Red Stars: Forward Mal Pugh — Pugh scored a brace in the Red Stars’ opening Challenge Cup match, leading the way to her team’s dominant 3-1 win over the Houston Dash. The U.S. Women’s National team forward joined the Red Stars last season after three years in Washington.

How to watch

Chicago Red Stars vs Kansas City Current
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 25
SeatGeek Stadium
Stream on Paramount+

  • Story from KC Current

KC Current opens Challenge Cup Friday in Louisville

Kansas City Current play the first match of the NWSL Challenge Cup against Racing Louisville FC at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 18. The game will stream on Paramount+.

The Current look to build upon the momentum generated by the seven-game unbeaten streak at home that closed the 2021 NWSL season. The team is undefeated in the preseason, with a 6-0 win against the Washington Spirit that featured six different goal scorers, and a 0-0 tie against the Orlando Pride.

Racing Louisville FC also enters their second season with several new acquisitions, including head coach Kim Björkegren, who joined the team in December.

Forward Jess McDonald signed with the team in an offseason trade with the North Carolina Courage, where she won three NWSL Championships. Draft pick Jaelin Howell joins the midfield alongside veteran Lauren Milliet, who started in 19 games and played in all 24 matches for Louisville last season.

Last meeting

The last match between the Current and Racing Louisville took place in Kansas City, Kansas, in August, where Kristen Hamilton scored the game winner for the home team in her 100th match.

The Current took home three points with a 2-1. Hamilton scored the winning goal – her second of the night – late in the first half. The overall season series is tied at 1-1-1.

New acquisitions

The Kansas City Current added eight players to the roster in the offseason, including U.S. National Team members Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams, who both joined the team from the North Carolina Courage. Mewis holds a World Cup Championship, a NCAA Championship and a FA Cup Championship, along with numerous individual accolades.

Mewis and Williams join KC Current teammates Kristen Hamilton and Adrianna Franch in the feat of winning three previous NWSL championships.

The Current also welcome Matt Potter as their new head coach. Potter joins the team as a former United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) assistant coach, U-23 USWNT head coach and decorated NCAA coach. Previously, he led the University of Oklahoma to two NCAA tournament appearances and three double-digit win seasons.

The team also announced the addition of 2021 NWSL Draft Pick, Alex Loera, who previously opted to return to Santa Clara University to finish her collegiate career. In May of 2021 Loera led the Broncos to the school’s second NCAA Championship and earned the Honda Sport Award for soccer, given to the best collegiate female athlete in each season.

The Current’s four 2022 NWSL draft picks — Elyse Bennett, Chardonnay Curran, Jenna Winebrenner and Izzy Rodriguez — were also signed to the team this week.

Players to watch

Kansas City Current: Forward Lynn Williams — Williams is one of the most decorated forwards in NWSL history. She was named the 2016 NWSL MVP, 2016 Golden Boot winner, and ranks second-all time in NWSL career goals and assists. She has 45 caps for the U.S. with 14 international goals and 10 assists.

Racing Louisville FC: Forward Jess McDonald — McDonald ranks first all-time in regular season NWSL assists (27) and fourth in goals (51). In her time with the North Carolina Courage, the team claimed three shields (2017-2019) and three NWSL Championships wins (2016, 2018 and 2019). She was also the Championship MVP in the 2018 final.

How to watch
Racing Louisville FC vs Kansas City Current
Friday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m.
Lynn Family Stadium
Stream on Paramount+

  • Story from KC Current