In an interesting setup, FC Kansas City will play back to back games against the Seattle Reign as both teams will visit their opponent's home stadiums on April 27 and May 4. For Seattle, the May 4th match will be their first home game.
It has been two weeks since FC Kansas City opened the NWSL season at Shawnee Mission Stadium. In their debut match against the Portland Thorns, FCKC made history as Renae Cuellar became the first player to score a goal in the NWSL. The Kansas City squad will look to improve on their current NWSL standings which place them in the fourth slot behind Washington, Sky Blue and Portland.
The FCKC defense will be put to the test as they attempt to prevent a vehement Seattle midfield from tearing them apart. Recently, Reign fans have witnessed the rise of midfielder Jessica Fishlock as she has transformed into a raging threat on the field. She does not evade physical interactions and can create scoring opportunities for their rather tentative front-line ensemble. Liz Bogus has become a breath of fresh air for the front-line as star strikers Tiffany Cameron and Lindsay Taylor were respectively sidelined due to school commitments and an injury. It is unclear whether Cameron or Taylor will play this week, however. Cameron has reportedly returned to Seattle to train. The club has yet to confirm whether Taylor is still tending to an eye injury sustained prior to the start of the regular season.
Fishlock and Kaylyn Kyle posed a quandary for the Thorns in week 2 due to their physical and creative plays. Much of the time Kyle frustrated Thorns midfielder Allie Long, costing Long a yellow card. Kyle and Fishlock have similar playing styles and close down opponents quickly to win possession.
Following last week's performance, the Reign cannot rely on physical play to see them through this match. As it stands, Fishlock, Christine Nairn, and Elli Reed are owners of yellow cards following last week, they cannot afford to rack up more cautions. FCKC has fluid passing between their members, and with Becky Sauerbrunn in the back who predicts plays well, they will develop an upper hand early on in the match. Kansas City have two tenacious midfielders, Kristie Mewis and Desiree Scott, who can win tackles, but their identity is defined by the skillful play of Lauren Cheney, Casey Loyd and Renae Cuellar.
It is difficult to predict which players will start and in what position as the Reign squad alternates frequently. Much of the modifications to the starting XI occurred because of the absence of Cameron and Taylor. If it is determined that Cameron and Taylor will not play this week then Nairn should serve alongside Bogus. In either situation, Nairn should be on the field because she improves the offensive and defensive attributes of the midfield. Teresa Noyola will hopefully make an appearance for the midfield due to her agility. As for the defense, Seattle needs to stick with Kate Deines, who was excellent last week, and had a big highlight play when she cleared a shot from Alex Morgan off the line.
FC Kansas City Injuries
Seattle Reign FC Injuries
OUT: Tiffany Cameron (school commitments), Lindsay Taylor (eye injury), Hope Solo (wrist injury), Megan Rapinoe (completing season with Olympique Lyonnais), Amy Rodriguez (pregnant)
Match Date/Time: Friday April 26, 7:35 pm EDT
Venue: Shawnee Mission North High School Stadium, Overland Park, KS
Online: NWSL Soccer YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/NWSLsoccer