Still unbeaten, KC Current frustrated by Saturday’s draw: ‘Thought we deserved to win’

The first-ever match under the night lights at CPKC Stadium was a wild one, with the KC Current and Racing Louisville playing to a 3-3 draw.

Gabrielle Robinson’s 91st-minute strike — her first career goal — gave the Current a 3-2 lead in stoppage time.

And it looked like the Current had done enough to secure a victory. Until the game just kept going past the initial eight minutes of stoppage time added.

“I just thought we deserved to win,” said a calm but visibly frustrated Vlatko Andonovski after the match.

Despite the announcement of eight minutes of stoppage time, the referee let the match play until the 105th minute.

In the 103rd, Savannah DeMelo scored for Louisville to make it 3-3, stunning the CPKC Stadium crowd. Even with the loss, the Current remained in first place, now 6-0-4 after 10 matches.

“I thought we were the better team,” Andonovski continued. “We deserved to win the game. I thought we created enough, and it’s just unfortunate that the game ended up the way it did.”

After the match, head referee Nabil Bensalah explained to a pool reporter why the match extended as long as it did.

“During the planned eight minutes of stoppage, there were two goals, a substitution, and multiple injuries that extended the total amount of stoppage time,” Bensalah said.

Lengthy stoppage-time amounts have been a hot topic around the NWSL this year. Between first and second-half stoppage time, the match on Saturday lasted 115 minutes, just five minutes shy of the norm for matches that go into extra time.

“We’ll just play as long as they tell us to play,” Andonovski said. “We have no choice.”

Shortly before DeMelo’s equalizer, one of those stoppages came just before the 102nd minute after a collision.

After Claire Lavogez corralled a header by Racing Louisville’s Reilyn Turner, Bensalah blew his whistle to stop the match due to a head collision elsewhere on the field. In that instance, the game is restarted with a drop ball, which Bensalah gave to Racing Louisville, not the Current.

Bensalah said via the pool report process that he deemed the last touch of the ball before his whistle to be from Turner. The Current did not regain possession until after DeMelo had scored.

“The moment that changed the game ... on the drop ball, I thought it was our ball,” Andonovski said. “It happened right in front of us. You know, that ball could have maybe finished the game for us.

“But we fought hard, and moments like this will happen.”

There was plenty of action leading up to that point.

Kansas City Current forward Michelle Cooper (17) scores a goal against Racing Louisville FC during the second half at CPKC Stadium on May 18, 2024.
Kansas City Current forward Michelle Cooper (17) scores a goal against Racing Louisville FC during the second half at CPKC Stadium on May 18, 2024.

Racing Louisville scored first when Emma Sears’ cross turned into a shot and found the top corner, fooling everyone, including KC goalkeeper AD Franch.

The Current, though, got one back thanks to Lo LaBonta’s penalty kick in first-half stoppage time. After a video review, the referee determined Vanessa DiBernardo was fouled in the box. LaBonta smashed her penalty kick into the top corner to tie it 1-1.

Michelle Cooper’s first goal of the season gave the Current a 2-1 lead in the 56th minute. But an own goal, which is currently credited as a goal for Louisville’s Abby Erceg, leveled the score at two apiece.

Replays showed the ball came off Stine Ballisager’s head into the net. That set the stage for Robinson’s apparent winner, a deflected strike that looped up and over the Louisville goalkeeper in the 91st minute.

Robinson became the 14th different goalscorer for the Kansas City Current in 2024. That ties the league record, and the Current became the fastest to do so (10 games). By the 17th game in 2022, North Carolina had 14 different goal scorers.

Neither Robinson nor Cooper wanted to revel in their goals, and both were frustrated with the way the match ended.

“I think it felt great personally,” Cooper said. “But I will say it’s a little disappointing in the end that we didn’t get three points.”

“I’m more focused on closing out the game,” Robinson said. “Especially being on defense, I feel like it’s just not good enough from us. The goal is great. But I wanna figure out how to close the game.”

The Current will return to action next week against the Utah Royals.