Twenty-eight days had passed since the Washington Spirit’s previous match — a tumultuous stretch marred by two forfeits, positive coronavirus tests, an ownership tiff, a player suspension and allegations of a toxic workplace culture for female employees.

On Sunday, at last, the Spirit was able to put aside its myriad off-field distractions and focus on the National Women’s Soccer League playoff race. Welcoming any good fortune, Washington pulled off the extraordinary: It scored on the last sequence of the first half and again 11 seconds into the second to come from behind to defeat Kansas City, 2-1, at Segra Field in Leesburg.

Captain Andi Sullivan’s penalty kick tied it, and rookie Tara McKeown scored shortly after the second-half kickoff as the Spirit (7-7-5) boosted its postseason hopes in front of 3,295 spectators. With five matches left, Washington is tied with the Houston Dash for the sixth and final spot.

“It was great just to be back on the field with everybody, and to get three points after all these shenanigans is pretty uplifting,” Sullivan said. “I am so inspired by this team’s resilience. It’s been extremely, extremely difficult, and it’s been really hard for us to come together, whether that’s emotionally come together because we’re drained or physically come together because of covid restrictions.”

There were reminders of the club’s problems: The Spirit Squadron, the team’s supporters’ group, remained largely silent, forgoing the usual performance of flags, drums and chants. A banner on a railing behind the south goal said, “Can You Hear Us Now?”

On Thursday, the group wrote on its Twitter page that it no longer had confidence in managing partner Steve Baldwin’s leadership and “cannot continue to operate as if there is not a cancer eating away at the heart and soul of this club.”

Another banner, similar to one raised at an Audi Field match last month, simply stated, “Sell The Team, Steve.”

There were no efforts by stadium officials to remove the banners. Baldwin did not attend the game. Nor did Larry Best, president of sporting operations, who according to three people who heard him use the nickname said a Spirit player should be known as “Dumb Broad.”

Y. Michele Kang, a co-owner battling with Baldwin for control of the club, was in attendance, as were investor Devin Talbott and Ben Olsen, the former D.C. United player and coach who this month was appointed the Spirit’s president of club operations.

On the field, the Spirit is unbeaten in four straight (2-0-2), but its two forfeits — for breaches of the NWSL’s medical protocols — had dropped it below the playoff line.

“These last three weeks have brought our team really close together,” McKeown said. “We knew we had something to prove to us, our team, our league — basically everyone. We weren’t going to back down from that challenge.”

The previous match was a scoreless draw with the North Carolina Courage on Aug. 29 at Audi Field. Since the forfeits of games set for Sept. 4 and 12, Washington, as well as all other NWSL teams, was off because of national team matches during the FIFA international window.

“It was definitely a relief” to play again, interim coach Kris Ward said. “It’s good just to get one and get it out of the way, just to get back on and get the momentum going again. Everyone was bought in.”

The victory came two days after backup goalkeeper Devon Kerr was suspended for one match for “failing to follow team staff directives.” That followed the Aug. 10 ouster of coach Richie Burke and allegations that he verbally and emotionally abused players. Those charges prompted a league investigation, the results of which are expected to be announced this week.

“We just need some closure on that front,” Sullivan said, “so we can move forward.”

The probe widened to include allegations of a toxic work culture for female employees amid an exodus of women from the club in the middle of the season. Along with the turmoil and allegations, a struggle for control of the team has ensued between Baldwin and Kang.

The Spirit was not at full strength Sunday: Leading scorer Ashley Hatch was not in uniform for an “excused absence,” the team said.

Last-place Kansas City (2-12-5) went ahead in the eighth minute when Darian Jenkins cut the ball back on the right side and lashed a 16-yard, left-footed shot. Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe was screened for an instant and failed to cover the near corner in time.

Outplayed throughout the half, the Spirit was fortunate to trail by only a goal as intermission approached. But on the last act of the half, the hosts pulled even. With her back to the goal, Kelley O’Hara absorbed Kiki Pickett’s contact from behind and went down. Sullivan stroked the penalty kick past Adrianna Franch, her U.S. national teammate.

Ward took the rare action of making four substitutions at halftime. One of them, McKeown, scored right away. Following three passes and a bad touch by a Kansas City defender just beyond the penalty area, McKeown drove a low, 23-yard shot into the left corner for her first goal.

“To pull out that type of performance with very difficult preparation is awesome,” Sullivan said. “Imagine how good we will be when we get to train together every day and have our ducks in a row.”

Notes: The Spirit hired Lee Nguyen and Annie Worden as assistant coaches. Nguyen is a former MLS star and U.S. national team player who this year was playing in Vietnam. He is on a short-term contract with the Spirit. Worden coached at Player Progression Academy, a local youth program. ...

Washington visits the North Carolina Courage (8-6-5) on Friday at 7 p.m.

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