The old saying that a team is only as good as its bench was proven tonight. With six regular starters attending to their national team duties and one nursing an injury, Kansas City Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski went deep into his bench for tonight’s match against the surging Chicago Red Stars. A penalty kick score from Casey Loyd and a top-shelf goal from Courtney Jones gave the visiting ‘Blues’ a 2-0 victory.
As the game started, Chicago looked to take advantage of the new Kansas City lineup and pressed high hoping the Blues inexperienced lineup would make a mistake. Jessica McDonald had the first chance of the game, beating the KC defense on the left side. She sent a cross through the box to Maribel Dominguez, who took a shot wide of the goal. After that, offensive opportunities were few and far between as Nia Williams and Katie Kelly shored up the central defense for the remainder of the game. In fact, they only allowed three shots on goal in the match, with all three coming in the final moments as the Red Stars tried to salvage some scoring opportunities before time ran out.
Andonovski decided to replace Cuellar tonight with a 1-2 punch of speedsters, Melissa Henderson and Courtney Jones. Together with Erika Tymrak, they continuously kept the Chicago defense on their heels running down the sidelines and defending dangerous crossed. One cross early in the game found Melissa Henderson at the top of the penalty box, as she drove to goal she was fouled by Red Stars defender, Sonja Fuss. The resulting penalty kick was buried by Casey Loyd in the 27th minute, giving FC Kansas City a 1-0 lead that held until halftime.
In the second half, the Blues hoped to grow their lead early. Tymrak received the opening kickoff and drove straight to goal, passing numerous Chicago defenders along the way. Her left footed shot towards the near post bent in just enough that Red Stars goalkeeper, Taylor Vancil, was able to make the save. On the night she faced eleven shots (eight on goal) and made six saves.
The continuous pressure paid off for the Blues in the 66th minute. Erika Tymrak received a clearance from Jen Buczkowski and had a wide open lane in front of her. As she dribbled towards goal, drawing the defense towards her, she laid an easy pass to Courtney Jones on the right side. Jones attacked the goalkeeper and rocketed a shot into the top of the net, giving Kansas City a 2-0 victory.