The Kansas City Current held a one-goal lead at halftime on Saturday in Washington, D.C., with hopes of launching themselves back into the thick of a playoff race by the end of the contest against the Spirit.
But 45 minutes later, a Trinity Rodman goal dealt the Current a 2-1 loss and put the Current on the brink of ending any remaining postseason hopes.
“I’m proud of the way we played, the chances we created and the way we controlled the game,” interim coach Caroline Sjöblom said after the match. “But it’s more than that: It’s set pieces, it’s transitions. And today that’s how Washington won it.”
The Current maintained a possession advantage for most of the first half, and it paid off in the buildup for the match’s first goal.
Hailie Mace found Michelle Cooper with a pass that led her into the penalty area. Sam Staab took down Cooper to give the Current a penalty kick, which Debinha promptly dispatched for a 1-0 lead.
But the Current did not carry that momentum through to the second half and were under immense pressure from Washington.
Sjöblom chalked the difference up to tired legs after their effort in the first half and the adjustments the Spirit made. The Spirit kept pressure on the Current with set pieces that created scoring opportunities.
“I think set pieces made the difference at the end of the day,” Current defender Kate Del Fava said. “We slipped up a little bit there.”
That pressure eventually paid off for Washington with Ouleymata Sarr’s first NWSL goal to level the score at 1-1 in the 52nd minute.
Both teams pushed for a winner until the end, and Rodman, a star with the U.S. Women’s National Team, sealed the final scoreline. A perfect pass behind the Current back line put Rodman in on goal, and she blasted a low shot past Current goalkeeper AD Franch.
The loss, given its playoff implications, could be crushing for the Current.
“I told them how far they have come with the style of play,” Sjöblom said. “But to win games in this league, you must be switched on with set pieces.”
According to the NWSL, a win for Racing Louisville in an upcoming game and a win for the Orlando Pride on Sunday would mathematically eliminate the Current from postseason contention.
The Current will shift their focus to an international friendly at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night when they face CF Monterrey at Children’s Mercy Park. Then, they will play their final match at Children’s Mercy Park the following Saturday against the Chicago Red Stars at 7 p.m.