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Cheney Rising: Midfielder Finds Groove with KC, U.S.

The American quietly had a scorching June, scoring six goals and leading her team into third place in the National Women's Soccer League. Can she continue to dominate for club and country?
BY Maura Gladys Posted
July 03, 2013
4:00 PM
June 2013 was inarguably Abby Wambach’s month. When you become the top scorer in international soccer, it’s pretty easy to snag that moniker.

But Lauren Cheney can make a strong case for runner-up. While she hasn’t set any international records (yet), the midfielder has quietly been racking up goals in the NWSL and drawing praise as one of the most dominant players in the league. Cheney scored six goals in June, despite missing two games because of national team duty, enough to launch into the top spot in the scoring column and push FC Kansas City ahead of Western New York into third place in the standings.

One of the most dangerous things a defense can see is Lauren Cheney sprinting down the middle of the field with the ball at her feet. Several things can happen. Cheney could pull up and take a wicked shot from distance, slot a perfectly weighted pass to a sprinting teammate, or keep dribbling forward, barreling her way into the box, creating even more options for herself and her teammates. Rarely does this scenario end with Cheney losing possession.

Just watch Cheney’s assist of Erika Tymrak’s goal in Kansas City’s 1-0 win over Seattle on June 9th. Cheney dips away from the Seattle defense with several slick step overs and feeds her teammate for the goal. Cheney’s impressive consistency is the mark of a level head and a confident player. She’s able to jump between club and national team duty, producing on both fronts. On a micro level, Cheney has the instincts and positioning to be in the right place at the right time and the composure to finish it off. In FC Kansas City’s 2-0 win over the Washington Spirit on June 23rd, Cheney’s second goal came when Renne Cuellar’s shot was defelected. Cheney stood unmarked on the back post, waiting calmly. Cuellar sent it across the goal, and Cheney one-timed it cooler than Andrea Pirlo taking a penalty against Spain.

Then there’s that shot. Cheney can possess the ball far up the field, then unleash a missile on net. Like here. Or here. Or most recently, this Goal of the Year candidate. Cheney’s comfort with KC as an attacking midfield position has translated to U.S. success. She scored in both of the United States games against South Korea in June and her ability to play the same position for her club tem and the national team allows her to jump back and forth with ease, and lets her build confidence on a consistent basis. Cheney will miss Kansas City’s next two games in order to marry NBA point guard Jrue Holiday, which may knock her off the league’s top scoring spot. But if Cheney’s consistency has taught us anything, it shouldn’t take long for her to be back in top form.

Maura Gladys, a featured ASN columnist, works in production for KICKTV. She also runs the goalkeeping blog All You Need Is Glove.

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