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Playoff-Bound Kansas City Current Hope to Climb NWSL Table in Final Match of 2022 Regular Season

September 30, 2022 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - Kansas City Current News Release


KANSAS CITY - Even though the Kansas City Current (10-5-6, 36pts, 3rd place) have already clinched a spot in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) playoffs Sunday, the club still has plenty to play for in its final match of the 2022 regular season. In the squad's last test before postseason play, the Current visit Racing Louisville (4-9-8, 20pts, 10th place) Saturday, Oct. 1 at 6:30 p.m. CT. Saturday's match will be streamed globally on Twitch and broadcast locally on ESPN Kansas City Radio, 94.5 FM, 1510 AM.

Kansas City clinched its playoff berth, the first in franchise history, with a dominant 3-0 win over the Washington Spirit on Sept. 25. The Current scored three first-half goals in the decisive victory while stifling a potent Spirit offense that had previously scored in seven consecutive matches entering Sunday's contest. Midfielder Lo'eau LaBonta opened the scoring with a rocket from outside the penalty area in the 18th minute, her seventh goal of the season. In the 31st minute, forward Cece Kizer joined LaBonta atop the team leaderboard with her seventh goal of the season, which doubled the Current's advantage. Forward Claire Lavogez completed Kansas City's dominant half with a goal in the 41st minute to secure the three-goal triumph. Current goalkeeper AD Franch picked up her 41st career NWSL shutout in the win.

Louisville, meanwhile, hopes to close its season on a positive note after going on a 13-match winless streak. Louisville has won two of its last three matches, the most recent a 3-1 road victory over Angel City FC on Sept. 25. After Angel City took a first-half lead, Louisville responded with two goals in six minutes to enter halftime up 2-1. Forward Kirsten Davis drew Louisville level in the 37th minute, and midfielder Alex Chidiac put the visitors ahead with a penalty kick in the 43rd minute. Goalkeeper Katie Lund made important saves to keep Louisville in the lead in the second half, totaling six saves in the match, and forward Emina Ekic secured the insurance goal in the 90th minute.

IT ALL COMES FULL CIRCLE

Closing the season against Louisville is fitting for the Current given how intertwined the clubs have been. Kansas City played its first competitive match of 2022 against Louisville, a 1-1 draw in the NWSL Challenge Cup that saw Kizer open the scoring as a member of Racing Louisville FC.

The Current began the second-longest unbeaten streak in NWSL history with a 1-0 win over Louisville at Children's Mercy Park May 30. Just over a week later, Kansas City and Louisville made what would ultimately become a season-altering trade for the Current. Kizer and defender Addisyn Merrick, both Kansas City natives, were traded to the Current in exchange for allocation funds and an international player slot.

Both have made an impact on the team since arriving in Kansas City June 9, but Kizer has developed into one of the Current's most important players. A weekly starter, Kizer has scored seven goals in 14 appearances for Kansas City, including five game-tying or go-ahead goals. Saturday's match will mark both Merrick and Kizer's first match against their former club since being traded to Kansas City.

NAVIGATING WEEK 20

Depending on the result of the Current's match against Louisville and other matches around the league, Kansas City can finish anywhere from first to fifth place in the NWSL table.

Kansas City is still in position to earn the NWSL Shield, presented by CarMax, and first overall seed in the playoffs. The NWSL Shield is given each year to the team that finishes the regular season in first place. New this year, each player on the team that wins the Shield will earn a $10,000 bonus. Kansas City winning the Shield could also secure a first-round bye and the ability to host a home playoff match at Children's Mercy Park on the weekend of Oct. 22-23. To secure the top spot in the league, Portland must lose against Gotham Oct. 1 and OL Reign must lose or draw against the Orlando Pride Oct. 1.

To earn the No. 2 seed, and the other first-round bye, the Current must win against Louisville and OL Reign must lose or draw against Orlando. The Current could draw against Louisville and still earn the No. 2 seed, but OL Reign would need to lose, the San Diego Wave would need to either lose or draw its match against the North Carolina Courage on Sept. 30 and Kansas City would need to hold a better goal differential than OL Reign.

The Current could hold firm as the No. 3 seed with a win, loss or tie against Louisville depending on other results, but a loss or draw could also send the Current to a No. 4 or No. 5 seed. The full list of playoff scenarios can be found here.

FRANCHISE RECORD ON THE LINE

With one match remaining in the regular season, the dust will finally settle an exciting three-player race to claim a franchise record.

LaBonta, Kizer and forward Kristen Hamilton are all making pushes for the Kansas City Current's club record for goals in a season, which Hamilton eclipsed first with her fourth goal of the season June 11. LaBonta and Kizer have since been on goal scoring tears to not only provide a massive boost for the Current's offense, but also quickly rise up the team scoring charts. All three players entered Sunday's match against Washington with six goals, but only LaBonta and Kizer scored against the Spirit. Hamilton came agonizingly close on multiple occasions, even hitting the post in the second half, but she could not join LaBonta and Kizer's goal totals entering Saturday.

No matter who ultimately comes out on top to earn both the season and franchise record for goals in a season, LaBonta, Kizer and Hamilton are having historic seasons. For Kizer and LaBonta, seven goals are the most they've scored in a season in their NWSL careers. In addition, the Current and the North Carolina Courage are the only NWSL squads to boast three players with six or more goals in 2022.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Kansas City Current midfielder Claire Lavogez - Lavogez found the scoresheet for the second time in her young NWSL career Sunday, a positive sign as she continues to ingratiate herself in the league. After recording a goal and an assist in Kansas City's thrilling 4-3 victory over North Carolina Aug. 13, she recorded 16 shots across her next five appearances without a goal. Lavogez's 41st-minute goal against Washington snapped that trend, and she'll look to maintain her offensive form heading into the postseason.

Racing Louisville goalkeeper Katie Lund - Lund has been the NWSL's top shot-stopper this season, and she ran away with the No. 1 spot on the league's saves list with a string of impressive performances. Her 107 saves entering Saturday's match are one short of the NWSL record, 37 saves higher than the 2022 second place goalkeeper, and she has five shutouts to go alongside that gaudy saves total. Despite Lund's best efforts, Louisville has conceded the third-most goals in the NWSL (35).

MATCH INFO

Racing Louisville vs. Kansas City Current

Saturday, October 1 at 6:30 p.m. CT

Lynn Family Stadium - Louisville, Kentucky

Radio on ESPN Kansas City Radio, 94.5 FM | 1510 AM

Stream on Twitch


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