The matchup between Washington and Kansas City is usually one between top-seeded teams battling for playoff position, however, this season Kansas City has just fallen off the map since they parted ways with their head coach shortly after the season started. Washington on the other hand has been a terror to the league, going from one of the worst teams in the league to fighting for the top seed this season. It was the storyline for Kansas last season, but this Spirit team shows no sign of stopping its momentum forward and pushing for the season's final game.
What Mark Parsons is doing in Washington is incredible and to think they still haven't hit their best performance yet. Seeing this team firing on all cylinders will be exciting to watch, Mark has found a way to mix youth and experience in the best way possible for a coach. He has everyone bought into the system. A win for Washington will put them on top of the league with one game remaining before the World Cup break. That match will be with Portland and yes, we expect early fireworks when the two sides meet in Portland. There are also talks that Alessia Russo may be convinced to leave the WSL and Manchester United for Lyon or the NWSL's Washington, both teams Washington Spirit's owner has a stake in.
The game started with a shocker just 23 seconds into the match rookie Michelle Cooper scored the fastest goal in league history. It was a series of unfortunate events for the Spirit that led to the rookie scoring for Kansas City more than a bad goal given up. The build-up saw Debinha send a cross in that got deflected off of Spirit player (Ines Jaurena), directly to Cooper who was offside but due to it being played by Ines, it put her back onside, and she buried the shot into the net, nothing Kingsbury could do on the play other than hope the ball somehow hits her and goes out for a corner kick. The Current would hold their 1 - 0 lead to the 23' when Debinha would score her 40th career goal and 5th of the season, via penalty kick. Spirit coach Mark Parsons was displeased with the penalty kick being awarded after a VAR review and was shown a yellow card for dissent.
Washington would not be held down or throw in the towel, they would respond in the 36' when Ashley Sanchez would pick off a pass in the midfield and take it straight toward the box, letting off a low driven ball to the corner of the 1st post off her right foot in traffic with two players hounding her. The goal would be Sanchez's tenth of the season, tying her for ninth in club history with Malory Swanson. She is also tied for third in the NWSL with seven shots on target from outside the box now. The score would remain 2 - 1 till halftime.
One can only imagine what Mark Parsons will say in the locker room at halftime, it was a first half that the Spirit want to forget but also showed great resilience at the same time. I don't think Mark needs to shake up the lineup just yet, it's more about keeping them focused and reminding them who they are and getting the results we know they're capable of achieving.
The second half started with the Spirit we've come accustomed to seeing, with Silano, Metayer, Rodman, and Sanchez putting on a one-two masterclass session to open the half. Sanchez would get a shot off inside the box that was deflected out by the KC defense.
In the 82' the Spirit would earn a corner kick that would forever change the match in Kansas City, Silano would line up to take the corner at the left corner flag, and she sent a beautiful bender into the box that found a wide-open Paige Metayer who headed it home with authority and anger. The goal was Paige's third of the season and also her third off of corner kicks this season. The goal also tied her for first in header goals and headers by a first-year player in the NWSL regular season.
Just five minutes later the impossible would happen, the Spirit would take their first lead of the match when Tara McKeown would volley home a beautiful cross pass by Bailey from outside the box. McKeown found herself all alone in front of the goal from 8 yards out, placing it lower corner 1st post for a 3 - 2 lead in the 87'. Tara not only had the game-winning goal in the match, but she also had 11 clearances which are the most by any spirit player.
The come-from-behind win on the road places Washington in first place in the NWSL, with their next match being against the second-place Portland Thorn. The match will be played in Portland on Friday, June 23 at 10 pm EDT. Fans can catch the match on Paramount+ or in person in Portland.
Photo Credit: © Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports