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How the Kansas City Current became contenders without their stars

No Sam Mewis. No Lynn Williams. Yet KC found its footing.

By André Carlisle (@838_Carlisle)

How the Kansas City Current became contenders without their stars

The Kansas City Current have made a lot of headlines. They recently unveiled a brand new training facility built specifically for their team, an NWSL first. They’ve secured private funding for a dedicated NWSL-specific stadium, another league first. They also pulled off the signings of two pillars from North Carolina’s dynastic team: midfielder Sam Mewis and forward Lynn Williams. Now they’re on a nine game unbeaten streak (six wins) despite injuries keeping their star signings from playing in the regular season.

While there’s an understandable temptation to consider what the Current would look like with a healthy Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams, it’s unfair to not recognize the talent performing on the pitch.

 

Goalkeeper AD Franch might find herself on the shortlist for MVP. Franch’s save percentage (77.2) is tied for second in the league, including several highlight reelworthy stops. For a team that has only scored 16 goals (tied for fourth lowest in the NWSL), Franch keeping their goals against to just 17 (fourth best) has helped accrue valuable points.

While Franch has been in God Mode, the defense in front of her has also helped limit shots on target. In particular center backs Kristen Edmonds and Liz Ball have been solid for the Current, while Canadian defensive midfielder Desiree Scott (a.k.a. Des the Destroyer) has lived up to her nickname many times throughout the season.

 

Rookie Alex Loera has also solidified herself as a reliable all-around defensive presence. Loera boasts a 73.3% tackle success rate, having won 22 of 30 tackles attempted. She also has 21 clearances and 15 interceptions. To add to this, Loera’s not just adept at taking the ball from the opposition but she also has rare vision and optimism for a defender, as evidenced by over 55% of her passes being directed up the pitch. Those numbers may be slightly skewed by Loera sometimes playing as a defensive midfielder, but even Portland’s Sam Coffey (one of the best young defensive midfielders in the league) only passes forward 33.5% of the time.

This solid defensive base and brilliant goalkeeping has allowed Kansas City to bide time until they could find their footing in attack, and recent results suggest the goals they’ve been waiting for are finally here. 

 

The Current have scored half of their total goals tally in their last five matches. An early June trade for forward CeCe Kizer has helped add a complement to Kristen Hamilton. Additionally, it provided multiple targets for offensive sparkplug Lo’eau LaBonta to find as she zips around the pitch as their primary creator. In fact, according to American Soccer Analysis, LaBonta (8.48) and Hamilton (9.19) are both in the top-7 in combined expected goals and assists.

Rookie forward Elyse Bennett has also done well enough in her substitute role to push for a starting slot, racking up three goals and two assists at a rate of .67G+A (goals & assists) per 90, 12th best in the league among players with at least 400 minutes played.

The Current finding the style of play that leans into the strengths of their players has turned them into a truly dangerous team. They have the talent to play without the ball and frustrate opponents, then strike quickly to seize on mistakes. Kansas City’s rise up the table and current unbeaten run is testament to the work they’ve put in beyond the headlines.

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