A 23rd minute penalty kick by Sophie Schmidt was the difference on Saturday night as Sky Blue FC won their fourth consecutive match in front of a crowd of 4,186, improving to 6-1-1 (19pts).
Australian forward Lisa De Vanna looked to put Sky Blue FC on the board when she ran side-by-side with Blues defender Becky Sauerbrunn. Sauerbrunn stayed with De Vanna and managed to poke the ball towards the middle. As the Aussie looked to run by, Lauren Sesselmann grabbed her by the jersey and tugged her down.
Referee John McCloskey did not hesitate to point to the spot. Sesselmann was issued a red card for the denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
Schmidt stepped up to bury a right-footed shot into past FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. It was Schmidt’s team and league-leading fifth goal of the season.
Lauren Cheney looked to have put FC Kansas City on top in the 10th minute when Sinead Farrelly slotted a cross behind the Sky Blue FC defense for the United States midfielder, but she was in an offsides position.
Renae Cuellar looked for her fifth goal of the season when she took a shot from distance that was punched over the net by Brittany Cameron in the 12th minute.
Cheney had a golden chance to tie the match in the 39th minute when she got in behind the Sky Blue FC back line and chipped Cameron. The shot had the Sky Blue FC beat, but Cheney’s shot bounced wide right.
Sky Blue FC was dealt a blow in the 21st minute when Kelley O’Hara went down and had to be helped off the field. She was replaced in the 26th minute after suffering a right ankle injury.
The visiting side had their best chance to double their lead just three minutes into the second half when Caitlin Foord took off down the right flank and was able to weave through several FC Kansas City players to get herself in 1v1 with Barnhart. The Blues keeper came up big to keep her team down by just one goal.
Cheney answered with an opportunity of her own just one minute later, taking a pass from Leigh Ann Robinson and rocketing a shot that sailed over the net, smacking the football crossbar.
The home side had several dangerous chances to equalize, especially as the second half wore on. Cheney and Cuellar combined in the 78th minute but Cuellar’s shot was wide of the target.
Second half substitute Courtney Jones put a cross on Cuellar’s foot, but the Mexican forwards shot was over the crossbar a minute later.
Cuellar had a final chance in the waning moments when Cheney put her in on Cameron, but the Sky Blue FC keeper came out and corralled the ball to preserve the win.
It was the first loss at Verizon Wireless Field for the Blues who fell to 3-2-1 (10pts). FC Kansas City will be in action on June 6 when they travel to Jeld-Wen field to take on the Thorns. Sky Blue FC will play host to the Boston Breakers on June 1 after a three game road trip.
- Caitlin Foord: The speedy Australian right back has been an impact player thus far for the New Jersey club. Saturday’s match saw her make several dazzling runs up the right flank before cutting inside and taking on players to get herself into a dangerous position. It will be interesting to see if defenses begin to adjust now that Sky Blue FC has played six of seven NWSL clubs (Boston is the only team that they have not played yet).
- Sky Blue FC streak: They have won four straight matches – all of them shutouts – by a combined score of 7-0. Two of those matches were against the struggling Seattle Reign, but there was also a pair of 1-0 victories over then undefeated Portland and then against FC KC. Next week will be interesting when both Sky Blue FC & Boston are missing their United States and Canadian internationals. Both teams will be without their leading goalscorers in Sydney Leroux and Sophie Schmidt.
- FC Kansas City center backs: After losing Becky Sauerbrunn last week due to injury, Blues head coach Vlatko Andonovski inserted Jen Buczkowski at center back with Sesselmann which was effective against the Boston Breakers on May 18. One can speculate that we’ll see Buczkowski in the center back spot next to Sauerbrunn when FC Kansas City travels to Portland.
- Kelley O’Hara’s ankle injury: O’Hara left this match in the 26th minute after suffering a right ankle injury. The ankle was wrapped in ice at halftime and she was seen with it propped up on the track during the second half. O’Hara will be at national team camp this week in preparation for the June 2 friendly against Canada in Toronto. She has a week to recover to take part in that match.
|Sky Blue FC||1||0||1|
|FC Kansas City||0||0||0|
|SBFC||Sophie Schmidt (PK)||23rd Minute|
FCKC: Nicole Barnhart, Becky Sauerbrunn (c), Lauren Sesselmann, Merritt Mathias (Courtney Jones 69’), Leigh Ann Robinson, Kristie Mewis (Katie Kelly 87’), Desiree Scott, Jen Buczkowski, Lauren Cheney (c), Sinead Farrelly (Erika Tymrak 60’), Renae Cuellar
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
SBFC: Brittany Cameron, Kendall Johnson, Coco Goodson, Christie Rampone (c), Caitlin Foord, Manya Makoski, Katy Freels, Sophie Schmidt, Danesha Adams, Lisa DeVanna (Melanie Booth 83’), Kelley O’Hara (Taylor Lytle 26’)
Head Coach: Jim Gabarra