And that's game! The North Carolina Courage dispatch FC Kansas City 2-0.
84' Kelly gets a shot off, but Rowland sights it all the way and it's an easy gather.
81' Groom takes a knock but keeps going, and the referee pulls the ball back for a free kick.
FC Kansas City substitution: Meagan Kelly replaces Lo'eau Labonta
North Carolina Substitution: Elizabeth Eddy enters for Ashley Hatch
71' Tymrak rips a shot from the top of the 18, but it flies over the crossbar.
North Carolina Substitution: Kristen Hamilton replaces Makenzy Doniak
FC Kansas City Substitution: Erika Tymrak replaces Brittany Ratcliffe.
67' GOAL North Carolina! Ashley Hatch gets her first career goal on an assist from Lynn Williams.
Correction on the goal: the assist was by Abby Erceg, not Ashley Hatch.
The official attendance for today's match is 3,717.
Dahlkemper struck a perfect corner. Hatch got the initial shot and Zerboni redirected it into the roof of the netting. It was Ashley Hatch's first career assist in her first career start.
60' GOAL North Carolina! McCall Zerboni gives the Courage a 1-0 lead off an assist from Ashley Hatch in the 60th minute.
56' Yellow card to Zerboni for a challenge on Ratcliffe.
55' Hinkle takes the free kick and sends a left-footed curler over the crossbar.
54' Hatch is tripped at the top of the box, and the Courage will have a free kick from the top corner of the box.
53' Rowland comes way out of her box to intercept a pass headed for Ratcliffe. She wins the ball cleanly and plays it away from pressure.
50' Hatch takes a shot from the top of the box, it it's well over the crossbar.
48' Labonta handles the ball, looking like she believed it was out of bounds. Free kick to the Courage, taken by Dahlkemper.
47' FC Kansas City keeping possession, trying to build out of the back.
The second half is underway.
FCKC have looked most dangerous on the break, while the Courage have created several good opportunities off of free kicks.
HT: We're scoreless at the break. A chippy affair for the most part so far, with out-and-out chances few and far between. The Courage have probably had the better opportunities, particularly the chaotic corner in the 40th minute.
There will be two minutes of additional time.
44' Dahlkemper gets her head on another corner, but it's wide.
43' A yellow card is given to Sauerbrunn for a late challenge on Doniak.
40' A chance at the other end for FCKC! Labonta slips Leroux in and her save is parried over the bar by Rowland
40' How did that not go in for the Courage! Dahlkemper got the initial header and the ball ricocheted off the goalposts twice before it was cleared.
36' Foul called, setting up a free kick for FCKC. Ratcliffe cut in front of Zerboni and was able to keep her feet, but the referee calls the ball back anyway for a free kick 25 yards out. Yael Averbuch is over the ball for FCKC.
33' Desiree Scott tries a shot from distance, but Rowland is alert to make her first save of the day.
With that save, Nicole Barnhart sets the NWSL record for saves, with 300 in her career.
29' Barnhart dives to save a low shot by Taylor Smith.
26' So close by Williams! She received the ball from Debinha and took her touch to the right of the goal and pulled her shot back across the goal, just missing the far post.
22' Debinha backheels a ball to Williams at the top of the Kansas City penalty area. The shot by Williams deflects out for a corner off of Christina Gibbons.
19' The Courage have the marjoity of the possession so far, but they haven't succeeded in pulling out the FCKC defense. For Kansas City, Leroux has done well pulling off the shoulder of the last defender.
15' Substitution by FC Kansas City. Katie Bowen makes way for Becca Moros
12' Ashley Hatch receives a yellow card for a high kick to the face of Becky Sauerbrunn.
11' Sam Mewis starts a beautiful sequence for the Courage, swinging a cross-field long ball to Smith. On the ensuing cross, Mewis arrives late and gets a shot off from distance, but she pulls it wide of the near post.
8' Doniak gets a step ahead of the FCKC defense with an off-the-ball run, but Barnhart is quickly off her line to collect.
7' Hinkle whips in a cross to the far post, but it's a head above Debinha.
4' Sam Mewis slips Williams in behind both FCKC center-backs with a fantastically weighted ball, but the forward's options are limited by the angle and her shot lands on the outside of the side netting.
1' Desiree Scott fouls Doniak, settng up an early opportunity for the Courage off a free kick. The cross is low and easily cleared by FC Kansas City.
We're underway from Cary, N.C. FCKC have the kick-off, and they'll send it back to their captain Becky Sauerbrunn
We're about 15 minutes away from kick-off. The game is set to start at 3:50 pm, live on Lifetime.
Goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland makes her second appearance this season for the Courage. Striker Ashley Hatch makes her first start this season. FCKC netminder Nicole Barnhart registers her eighth consecutive start in 2017.
FC Kansas City substitutions: Parkhill, Tymrak, Moros, Flynn, Kelly.
FC Kansas City Starting XI: Barnhart, Talor, Sauerbrunn, Averbuch, Gibbons, Labonta, Scott, Bowen, Groom, Ratcliffe, Leroux. Sauerbrunn will captain FCKC.
NC Courage Substitutes: D'Angelo, Eddy, Rosana, McDonald, Hamilton, Speck, Witteman
NC Courage Starting XI: Rowland; Erceg, Dahlkemper, Hinkle, Smith, Doniak, Mewis, Zerboni, Debinha, Hatch, Williams. Erceg will wear the captains armband.
Both teams have taken the field for warm-ups. It's a hot one from Cary, N.C. today. 85 degrees and no shade on the field. Line-ups for both teams should be available soon.
FC Kansas City Keys to the Game: Counter-attack. FCKC are on a roll: they’re unbeaten in their last four matches, with forward Sydney Leroux being named the NWSL Player of the Month in May. The Blues have a real opportunity to jump-start their offense, as the Courage love to attack with numbers and frequently leave gaps in the back. Both Leroux and Shea Groom have real pace and fearlessness when it comes to finishing their chances, so they will give the Courage backline all they can handle.
North Carolina Courage Keys to the Game: Pace. Thanks to head coach Vlatko Andonovski, FCKC have one of the best-drilled, best organized backlines in town. Where they are not blessed, however, is pace, and that the Courage have in spades. If FCKC focus on Williams, there’s McDonald. If they focus on McDonald, there’s Makenzy Doniak, and Debinha, and Smith, etc. Sauerbrunn reads the game at a higher level than most mortals, and she and her center-back partner Yael Averbuch are typically in lock-step, but there might be no argument against the pure speed and relentlessness of the Courage’s front line.
On paper, the game promises a contest between offense and defense. Offense: the Courage’s full-steam ahead front-runners, Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald, the NWSL’s all-time leading goalscorer, against defense: the brick-wall of Becky Sauerbrunn and Nicole Barnhart, the goalkeeper who holds the NWSL record for shut-outs. North Carolina are one of the league’s highest scoring teams and have yet to be shut-out, while FCKC have allowed only five goals in seven games.
Both teams will be missing key players for Saturday’s match. The Courage will be without starting defender and Japanese international Yuri Kawamura, who tore her ACL and meniscus in last week’s Chicago Red Stars match and will miss the remainder of the season. Absent for FCKC is Alexa Newfield, who was sent off in Blues’ game against the Washington Spirit.
This week’s matches will be the last before entering the FIFA break, when multiple players will disembark for international duty. Among those players are the Courage’s Lynn Williams, who was added to the USA roster after an injury to Alex Morgan, Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Hinkle, and Samantha Mewis, and Sydney Leroux and Becky Sauerbrunn from FC Kansas City. They will travel to Europe for the USWNT’s friendlies with Sweden and Norway in the upcoming week. The NWSL season will resume Saturday, June 17.
Hello and welcome to VAVEL USA’s live coverage of the National Women's Soccer League. Tonight’s match sees the first place North Carolina Courage host two-time NWSL champions FC Kansas City. My name is Willa Grefe and I’ll be your host for today’s match, brought to you live from Cary, N.C. Fans can watch the match on Lifetime at 3:30 pm, or follow along here for pre-game rosters, analysis, and live game updates.