Wrapping up Week 11 was the matchup between the Houston Dash and FC Kansas City at Swope Soccer Village. The Houston Dash came to Kansas City with a two-game unbeaten streak (a win in Orlando and a draw against Boston), and FCKC returned home after a west coast trip that resulted in a draw at Seattle and at their worst defeat of the season against Portland.
For two teams trying to stay within reach of playoff contention at the halfway point of the 2017 NWSL season, a win was necessary.
Back and Forth Efforts
FC Kansas City started their attack early in the 4th minute. From midfield, defender Brittany Taylor sent a pass wide right to forward Shea Groom, who found fellow forward Brittany Ratcliffe for a cross. Unfortunately for the Blues, Ratcliffe's shot went wide.
Four minutes later, it was Houston's turn to get close to scoring. A pass from Carli Lloyd to Rachel Daly to Janine Beckie outside the box resulted in a shot, but goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart saved it without trouble.
A minute later, FCKC's Taylor again built the offense for the Blues, playing the ball into the box to find Sydney Leroux, who was able to head it in the goal's direction. That, too, failed to find the back of the net, going over the goal.
For the next half hour, both teams went back and forth in their efforts to score, and all attempts to build advantage were either stopped defensively, saved by Barnhart or Jane Campbell, or shots went wide or high over the goal.
After the hydration break, FCKC midfielder Lo'eau Labonta received a yellow card for a hard tackle on Dash midfielder Andressinha. That first yellow card would prove to be costly for the Blues in the second half.
As the first half dwindled in stoppage time, defender Christina Gibbons sent a cross to Groom, who turned and beat Campbell's reach to send the leading goal for Kansas City into the far post. It would be Groom's first goal of the season.
Dash Down, but Not Out
The back and forth efforts to score continued in the second half. Kansas City wanted another goal for a comfortable lead, and Houston needed an equalizer.
As Houston inched closer to scoring a goal, defender and US international Becky Sauerbrunn was in perfect position to foil each attempt in back-to-back clears inside the box. However, on the third attempt, Sauerbrunn couldn't match Daly's speed after Lloyd sent a perfect pass. Daly's initial shot was saved by Barnhart, but the ball rebounded right back to Daly who was in place to take the shot for a goal. Houston and Kansas City were tied at the 56h minute with Daly's third goal of the season.
If the Blues were to score another goal, they would have to do so without LaBonta. After another foul on Andressinha in the 62nd minute, LaBonta was sent off after receiving her second yellow card of the game. The foul set up the Dash for a free kick and its eventual second goal of the game. Defender Amber Brooks took the kick which found Nichelle Prince in the FCKC box. Prince would score her second of the season, giving Houston the 2-1 lead.
Despite playing with 10 players, FCKC did its best to get back in the game, hoping to make it 2-2. Their best chance came when Ratcliffe was able to take a shot from outside the box, but Campbell was able to get a touch on the high-sailing attempt on goal. The ball hit the crossbar instead.
Kansas City would make a trio of substitutions in the last 20 minutes in hopes of getting the equalizer as midfielders Caroline Flynn, Katie Bowen, and Maegan Kelly came into the game. The Dash, however, would hold on to their 2-1 lead to earn the three points and their third road win of the season. FCKC's seven-game unbeaten streak at home would come to an end, suffering their second consecutive loss.