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NC Courage vs. Football Club Kansas City: Match preview

At least Chicago isn’t back in town

The NC Courage come back to Cary after losing to the Chicago Red Stars, this time they managed a second goal but still lost 3-2. Perhaps feeling the fatigue of playing midweek, leading to Jess McDonald starting the match on the bench, North Carolina again let in three goals in a loss. Last weekend the Courage managed to hold off the Red Stars onslaught until the second half. The first 45 minutes were largely back and forth with each team netting a goal. After halftime, the Red Stars came out with much more energy.

The loss of defender Yuri Kawamura, who will miss the remainder of the season, in the first half no doubt created problems defensively for the Courage. Two goals before the hour mark put the Courage too far behind to mount a comeback. A Debinha free kick found the back of the net in the 74th minute and it seemed like North Carolina was on the verge of finding a third goal. The Red Stars retreated into a defensive shell and held off the Courage forays forward to come away with the 3-2 victory.

The result wasn’t great for North Carolina, but the scoreline doesn’t do the play on the field justice. The second goal for Chicago was off of a corner kick on a play that Sabrina D’Angelo just didn’t come out aggressively enough for the ball. Compared to the last match where Chicago dominated the midfield and ran rampant behind North Carolina’s defense, this game was a marked improvement.

FCKC Comes to Cary

Football Club Kansas City will pose a different challenge to Carolina than their last two opponents. While Chicago is more interested in possession and Sky Blue is developing a similar style of play, FCKC has a much more defensive mindset. That said, they leaked two goals last weekend against the Washington Spirit on the way to a 3-2 win thanks to a brace from Sydney Leroux.

While NC has struggled against teams that challenge them for control of the midfield, FCKC will sit back and try to absorb pressure to break on the counter. On the one hand, the Courage have shown that they can break teams down if they are ceded possession, on the other they have also shown that their press can be beaten with gaps between the midfield and defense opening up space for strikers on the counter. If Kansas City is going to get a result, Sydney Leroux will have to exploit that space.

Breaking down FCKC may be easier said than done. They have arguably one of the best keepers in the league in Nicole Barnhart and have only allowed five goals in seven games. Their defensive prowess is impressive and if they can manage to jam up the midfield enough this could be a frustrating day for the Courage.

Lineup prediction

The loss of Yuri Kawamura is a serious blow to the team. She had developed nice chemistry with fellow defenders Abby Erceg and Abby Dahlkemper, a backline that has helped keep the Courage at the top of the table so far this season.

How to watch

Kickoff: Saturday June 3, 2017, 3:47PM ET on Lifetime - pregame show starting at 3:30PM

Other news and notes

Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Hinkle, Lynn Williams and Samantha Mewis will join the US Women’s National Team for friendlies on June 8th in Sweden and June 11th in Norway.

Debinha will be away with the Brazil Women’s National Team for their matches in Spain and Iceland on June 10th and 13th.