Oct 29, 2022; Washington, D.C., USA; Portland Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair (12) celebrates an own goal past Kansas City Current goalkeeper Adrianna Franch (21) in the second half of the NWSL championship game at Audi Field. (Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)

Losses can fuel fire.

And that’s what players on the Kansas City Current alluded to in their postgame press conference on Saturday. The Current lost in the NWSL championship 2-0 to the Portland Thorns.

“I don’t think anyone will sleep on this team anymore,” said Lo’eau LaBonta, alluding to the fact that not many put Kansas City in the championship game at the beginning of the season.

The Current went from last place in the league last season to the championship game this season. In the midst of that, the team rattled off a 13-game unbeaten streak. And that was without blockbuster off-season acquisitions Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams.

It’s been a long road, particularly for players like LaBonta who have been a part of the league for seven years. LaBonta, and teammate Desiree Scott, have traveled with Kansas City as the team traveled from there, to Utah, and back again.

On Saturday, LaBonta was adamant that Scott wasn’t allowed to leave during free agency. Nor was she allowed to cry.

“It hurts because Kansas City showed up for sure and we played for them,” LaBonta added, noting that the club has felt more support from the community this season.

For first-year head coach Matt Potter, who was nominated for Coach of the Year, the loss doesn’t mean the entire year was lost.

“Incredibly proud how far we’ve come in a small space of time,” Coach Matt Potter said. “This one’s going to hurt, but there’s much to smile about even in this moment.”