Sky Blue FC hopes hanging by a thread after 2-1 loss to FC Kansas City

kerr v fckc

by TOM SLATER

Sky Blue may still have a pulse. But it’s faint.

With time running out on the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season, a 2-1 loss to FC Kansas City at Swope Soccer Village might have just been enough to dash the playoff hopes of Sky Blue FC.

FC Kansas City scored one goal right before the half and one five minutes before the end of regulation to erase a 1-0 lead and give the Blues the first come-from-behind victory in their four-year NWSL history. Which is kind of hard to believe considering FC Kansas City are back-to-back defending champions.

To add insult to injury it was New Jersey native Yael Averbuch who hit a cracker of a goal in the 85th minute to provide the margin of victory. Averbuch nailed a knuckling, swerving free kick from 40 yards out that went over the head of goalkeeper Caroline Stanley.

Averbuch, who had just missed from a similar spot several minutes earlier, took the free kick after a yellow card foul from Tasha Kai on Heather O’Reilly.

Officially, the Jersey girls are still alive. But they need a lot of stuff to happen — including picking up wins in at least two of their last three matches. The loss puts Sky Blue FC at 6-7-4, 22 points in sixth place in NWSL. They have three matches left, including a home-and-home series with Orlando on Wednesday and Sunday. The victory keeps FC Kansas mathematically alive with a 5-9-4 record for 19 points.

Sky Blue FC struggled to find a true rhythm throughout the game but scored the first goal on a great finish by Australian striker Sam Kerr.

In the 40th minute, Kerr finished off a fine run by outside defender Erin Simon, who squared the ball across the top of the penalty area to a wide open Kerr. Kerr let the ball run by her body and slammed a curving shot past FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. The goal was Kerr’s third of the season and second in consecutive games.

Sky Blue nearly scored again when Leah Galton was fouled by O’Reilly, who was cautioned, in the 43rd minute. Sarah Killion launched a free kick that Kai deflected off the post.  Kerr scrambled for the rebound but Barnhart was able to save it.

Galton was helped off the field as Sky Blue tried to kill the final minutes of the first half with 10 players. And they almost got away with it.

But the Blues worked the ball quickly down field with Desiree Scott finding Caroline Kastor on the right wing. Kastor send a ground pass diagonally through the box where Tiffany McCarty made no doubt and knotted the match at one.

FC Kansas City set the pace in the second half with serves coming from both flanks and forcing Stanley to make at least three quality saves.

Sky Blue’s best chance came in the 78th minute when Erica Skroski sent in a serve from the corner that Kai dummied for Kerr. The Aussie rifled a shot but Barnhart was again able to make the save.