Nadim Injured In Sky Blue Draw

IMAGE, SKY BLUE FC

by CHRIS HENDERSON
NWSL Beat Writer

Sky Blue FC’s home opener ended level with the Houston Dash, but the team finished the game with a potentially devastating loss.

As the teams emerged for the second half, star striker Nadia Nadim sat on the bench with her thigh wrapped in ice. A reported groin injury kept her out of the second half and her teammates gave up their 1-0 lead.

The team’s franchise six-game win streak, led by Nadim’s goals and assists, is now over.

A 52nd minute close range shot by the Dash’s Jessica McDonald canceled out a Katy Freels finish off some Sky Blue combination play in the 14th minute leaving the final score at 1-1.

Sky Blue lined up exactly as they had in the season opener against FC Kansas City, save for the now eligible Shawna Gordon coming in for Meg Morris on the left side of the midfield. Houston made more wholesale changes with their Canadian contingent available for the first time. Goalkeeper Erin McLeod, defenders Lauren Sesselmann, and Allysha Chapman joined former Sky Blue midfielder Ashley Nick in replacing Bianca Henninger, Ella Masar, Stephanie Ochs, and Rachel Axon.

Much as they did in the Kansas City last week, Sky Blue ceded much of the possession early in the first half. The away side nearly scored five minutes into the game when goalkeeper Brittany Cameron charged off her line, but failed to beat an onrushing Carli Lloyd to the ball. Only deft defending from centerbacks Kristin Grubka and Christie Rampone kept the visitors out.

Sky Blue once again struggled to hold on to the ball and get it forward to Nadim. But a seemingly innocuous foul on the striker near the center circle led to a quick restart and the Danish international on the ball surging forward. Her throughball to a streaking Kelley O’Hara scythed the defense and a cutback by the defender to Freels made for an easy finish. The midfielder roofed it.

Following the goal, Houston continued to find space in the Sky Blue defense with leftback Meghan Klingenberg, in particular, enjoying runs forward. Lloyd and Kealia Ohai got off shots, but the half ended 1-0.

The restart saw the recovering Sesselmann subbed off for Ochs and Meg Morris on for the ailing Nadim. Morris slotted in on the left side of the midfield with Maya Hayes pushed up top.

The Dash continued to pour forward and a deep cross from number 1 draft pick Morgan Brian fooled Cameron enough for McDonald to slot home from close range. With the game level again, Sky Blue saw a bit more of the ball, but their efforts on goal were limited to Freels trying to catch McLeod off her line from 40 yards out.

In the 67th minute, rookie Lo’eau Labonta replaced Rampone, as the captain seeks to work her injured knee back to full fitness. Lindsi Cutshall slid into the backline, but almost immediately gave the ball away with a dangerous pass to Grubka. The resulting chance produced a good save from Cameron.

For the last 15 minutes of the match, the Dash won corner after corner producing several good looks at goal, the best of which had Brian denied by a diving stop by Cameron.

The long wait now begins for the extent of Nadim’s injury, as Sky Blue prepares for its next game on April 26 home against the Washington Spirit.

Scoring Summary:

14’ Katy Freels SBFC, 52’ Jessica McDonald HD

Misconduct Summary:

90’ Katy Freels (Yellow Card)

Lineups:

SBFC: Brittany Cameron, Christie Rampone (Lo’eau LaBonta-67), Kristin Grubka, Lindsi Cutshall, Cami Levin, Shawna Gordon (Kim DeCesare-79), Katy Freels, Sarah Killion, Kelley O’Hara, Nadia Nadim (Meg Morris-45), Maya Hayes

Substitutes Not Used: Aubrey Bledsoe, Nikki Stanton, Theresa Diederich

FCKC: Erin McLeod, Lauren Sesselmann (Stephanie Ochs-45), Morgan Brian, Kelia Ohai, Carli Lloyd, Jessica McDonald, Allysha Chapman (Tiffany McCarty-80), Ashley Nick, Niki Cross, Melissa Henderson (Ella Masar-56), Meghan Klingenberg

Substitutes Not Used: Bianca Henninger, Rachael Axon