PISCATAWAY, N.J. — “I’ll be the first one to say that the first half was an embarrassment for everybody – myself included.”
That was what Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra said about his team’s first 45 minutes, where they allowed four goals to the visiting FC Kansas City and eventually lost 5-0. Sky Blue started the game roughly, allowing a goal two minutes in, rendering the home crowd at Yurcak Field, New Jersey, silent.
The result dropped Sky Blue to a 3-7-7 record in the National Women’s Soccer League, while FC Kansas City improves to 10-4-3. The 5-0 score ties the largest blowout in NWSL history, according to Equalizer Soccer’s Dan Lauletta.
Erika Tymrak, midfielder, started the party early for Kansas City with her goal on a cross that slipped through the back line of Sky Blue. The score came two minutes into the match, putting Sky Blue at a disadvantage immediately.
Seven minutes later, midfielder Lauren Holiday scored an off of a corner kick, curling the ball at such an angle that it got past Sky Blue goaltender Brittany Cameron and tucked into the far corner.
Then, things spiraled out of control for Sky Blue. Three more goals were recorded in the match, two of which came later in the first half. Sarah Hagen, in her first official NWSL start, scored her first and second NWSL goals against Sky Blue and received praise from Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
“We’re very happy with Sarah’s performance first and foremost, but we’re also happy with the changes that we made,” he said. “Offensively it worked tremendous. Defensively we had to do a little more running than we used to, but sometimes you have to give up something to gain something.”
Meanwhile, Sky Blue’s head coach had a few reasons for his team’s loss.
“I think we took a risk and tried to press them a little higher on the field and got too stretched out and gave up two soft goals,” Gabarra said. “And then we were very naïve and just kind of kept banging our heads into the wall instead of consolidating and trying to drop off and right the ship, and gave up two more.”
Gabarra was noncommittal in his halftime message to his team (“I can’t tell you,” was his quote to media), but Sky Blue did attack better in the second half. They could not, however, put one past Kansas City.
“I thought the second half we were better, and it’s a shame that we gave up a lazy, soft goal at the end,” said Gabarra. “I thought we were playing much better in the second half.”
The goal Gabarra referenced came from Kansas City striker Amy Rodriguez, who blasted a ball past Cameron in the 91st minute – yes, stoppage time. That tally capped off a dreary night of soccer for Sky Blue. Or, from Andonovski’s perspective, a beautiful night of soccer.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” said Vlatko Andonovski, Kansas City’s head coach. “You can not be any happier.”
Kansas City accelerated early, and never looked back.
“We just killed the game,” Andonovski said. “After that 20th minute [the time of Hagen’s first goal] in the first half the goal was just to kill and slow the pace … and that’s what we did.”
Kansas City’s defeat of Sky Blue was their eight-straight victory, which keeps them at second overall in the NWSL. Kansas City’s win is also the eighth straight game in which goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart has recorded a shutout. Per Lauletta, Barnhart has not allowed a goal in 585 minutes of play.
Sky Blue entered the Kansas City match with a four-game unbeaten streak (three ties and a win). They have two weeks to prepare for their next game, a contest against the Washington Spirit (7-7-2). It will be another home game for Sky Blue – 6:00 pm at Yurcak Field.
Sky Blue and Kansas City are both members of the National Women’s Soccer League, the highest women’s league on the USA soccer pyramid. Amiri Tulloch will be covering the final two home games for Sky Blue FC.