The NWSL open their playoffs today the same way they opened league play, with a marquee matchup between FC Kansas City and the Portland Thorns. The second and third seeds respectively have played some of the best and most entertaining games of the season and it looks to be a good match again. The two sides have combined for 16 goals in four games with the Blues pulling a 2-1-1 record against their rivals from the coast.
While both teams have been at or near the top of the table for most of the season, both teams have limped in to the post season a bit. FC Kansas City capped a 10 game unbeaten streak with a 3-2 win in Portland on August 4th but lost their last two regular season games including giving a up a goal in stoppage time last weekend to lose first place. The Thorns lone win in their last four matches came last weekend against the hapless Seattle Reign.
Portland star Alex Morgan missed two of those games with a MCL strain and is hoping to make an appearance in today's semifinal match in Kansas City. "The knee is doing better every day, today I practiced full and it felt good," Morgan said after a short practice on Friday. "I think tomorrow it will just be a game time decision, to see how I wake up and I feel in the morning."
Thorns coach Cindy Parlow Cone echoed Morgan's positive vibe, "she did great today, practiced the whole training session, she did really good."
FC Kansas City has an injury concern as well, right back Leigh Ann Robinson left the match early in the first half last week. This left Coach Vlatko Andonovski juggling his regulars around and let Chicago exploit a player who had not played defense for a couple months.
Fortunately for Coach Andonovski, Robinson was able to practice of Friday. "I got some good cuts in and struck some balls, it's good," Robinson said.
Andonovski praised Robinson's determination. "When she got injured, the very next day when we talked she said she was playing on Saturday and she couldn't even walk five feet. That's who Leigh Ann is, that's who she has been for us all season. She won't take no for an answer, she told me, ‘I've got this coach'.
Robinson was voted third for NWSL Defender of the Year behind team mate Becky Sauerbrunn and also just received her first call up to the U.S. national team.
Portland and FC Kansas City face off at Verizon Wireless Field (Shawnee Mission District Stadium) at 1:00 PM.
- FC Kansas City plans on wearing their all black kits
- Andonovski broght the extremely talented Casey Loyd back in to camp this week. Loyd initially was not going to play this season opting to stay close to her husband in Dallas but was convinced to play on a part time basis when the Blues needed help because of injuries or national team duty. Expect if the Blues need a goal late or if it may be going to penalties to see Loyd step in.
- Despite being the better matchup the Blues and Thorns are getting the mid-afternoon national tv slot. Youth soccer season in Kansas City is in full swing now and the NWSL should have pushed hard to have the match later in the day when more soccer families could have attended.