KC Current hold off Portland for a 5-4 victory in their new stadium


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Vanessa DiBernardo scored the first goal for Kansas City in its new stadium and the Current held off the Portland Thorns 5-4 on Saturday in the regular-season opener for the National Women’s Soccer League.

Debinha’s rebound shot deflected off Thorns goalkeeper Shelby Hogan and fell to DiBernardo, who scored in the 22nd minute. Rookie Ellie Wheeler scored moments later and the Current built a 3-1 lead by halftime.

Bia Zaneratto, Kristen Hamilton and Alex Pfeiffer added goals for the Current. Sophia Smith and Janine Beckie each had a pair of goals for the Thorns.

The Current were hurt in the 32nd minute when Debinha, a finalist for last year’s league MVP award, left the game with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

It was the first game at CPKC Stadium, which the team says is the first U.S. stadium built expressly for women’s pro soccer. The privately financed $120 million facility sits on the banks of the Missouri River and seats 11,500.

Saturday’s game was a sellout. It also was the first NWSL game broadcast on ABC as part of the league’s new media rights deal. The NWSL inked a new broadcast deal worth $60 million annually that will feature the league’s matches on ESPN networks, CBS Sports, Amazon Prime Video and Scripps Sports.

Zaneratto, who has played in four Women’s World Cups for Brazil and was signed by the Current earlier this season, scored before Smith made it 3-1 in the 43rd minute.

Hamilton and Pfeiffer added second-half goals to extend the Current’s lead to 5-1. But Portland rallied with Beckie’s goal in the 71st minute and Smith’s second in the 74th. Beckie’s second came in stoppage time.

The Current won their first game under Vlatko Andonovski, the former U.S. national team coach, who also coached at FC Kansas City, one of the league’s founding teams that played from 2013 to 2017.

Andonovski also coached two seasons with the Reign before taking over the U.S. national team. He parted ways with the team following the U.S. exit at the Women’s World Cup last year.

Brittany and Patrick Mahomes, part of the Current’s ownership group, kicked off the game with a “K.C., baby!” chant.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer



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