KC Current’s Mace, Cooper available against NJ/NY Gotham FC

KC Current’s Mace, Cooper available against NJ/NY Gotham FC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Current are on track to having a fully healthy squad.

Defender Hailie Mace (hip) and forward Michelle Cooper (calf) are both available for the Current’s Sunday evening match against NJ/NY Gotham FC.

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Mace hasn’t played since the Current’s season opener against the Portland Thorns and Cooper hasn’t dressed in any of the Current’s first three matches.

“That’s a huge positive,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski said on Friday morning. “Two great players coming back and slowly, we’re getting them integrated with the team and hopefully see them play significant minutes for us.”

Mace and Cooper’s minutes on the pitch will be limited as they work their way back into playing form. Anodonvski said he expects Cooper to be fit for at least one half.

“I’ve been dying to come back,” Cooper said on Wednesday. “So I’m super excited to make an impact on the game finally. Whatever role I have, whether it be 10 minutes, whether it be 30 minutes, whether it be longer than that, I am ready to do whatever I need to do for us to continue our winning streak.”

Izzy Rodriguez replaced Mace at left back on the backline and scored a goal against San Diego Wave FC in the road win.

Rodriguez has played well, and Andonovski loves the depth and competition in the team, which forces him to make tough decisions on who will play.

“Obviously we think a lot of Izzy and Hailie at the same time,” he said. “It is a competition and if Hailie deserves to be there, Hailie is going to be there. If Izzy deserves to be there, she’s going to be there as well.”

Cooper joins a Current attack that is the highest in the NWSL with 11 goals in three matches, led by Brazilian forward Bia Zaneratto (two goals, one assist), midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo (two goals, two assists), and Malawi forward Temwa Chawinga (one goal, two assists).

“I think we’re all bought into the idea and strategy in the way that we’re playing and knowing that people realize that we’re gonna have multiple opportunities in front of goal,” Cooper said.

“Whether it be five for one person, five for the next person, or all 10 to one. We all know that opportunities are going to come and with that means the excitement, the anticipation of scoring, and it’s definitely something I think all attackers even defenders, Ellie [Wheeler] proved it, can look forward to.”

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The Current still also have Swedish defender Hanna Glas (knee, season-ending injury list) forward Debinha (hamstring), forward Nichelle Prince (calf) and defender Mallory Weber (knee, SEI) working their way back from injuries as well.

For them to see the pitch, they’ll have to build their bodies back up and face competition on their own team before seeing any opponents.

“There’s a competition on every spot and it’s a healthy competition,” Adonovski said. “And players understand that they have to perform and be their best every training, every game in order to keep the spot or to win the spot.”

The Current face Gotham on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey at 5 p.m.

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