FC Kansas City and the Seattle Reign faced off on Thursday in a rematch of last year’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) championship game, and just like then, Kansas City forward Amy Rodriguez again proved to be the difference maker, scoring her first goal of the season in the 49th minute en route to a 1-0 victory.
It was the Blues’ first victory of the season, and they currently stand at 1-2-0; with the loss, Seattle has the same record.
The game started off slowly, with both sides taking some outside shots with poor results. Rodriguez took a chance with a deep ball from the left side, but it sailed out of bounds near the far post. The Reign followed that up with a couple shots of their own, but with little action in the box, Blues keeper Nicole Barnhart did not have to do much.
At the 15-minute mark, Kansas City had some action near the top of the box, making some passes and approaching the net, but Seattle got rid of it without much of a problem. Just two minutes later, Rodriguez stole a pass and dribbled around a Reign defender, taking a shot just inside 18 yards but the ball sailed wide.
Twenty seven minutes in, Seattle Reign got a look at the net when midfielder Megan Rapinoe passed a ball from the middle to a streaking Kim Little on her left. Little’s shot crossed the front of the net, but no one was near enough to redirect it in and Kansas City escaped unscathed.
It wasn’t until just past the half hour mark that the Blues really threatened on a ball lofted from midfielder Lauren Holiday to forward Sarah Hagen, who stayed onside, then broke away from her Reign defender to chase down the ball toward the goal. But she took a second too long trying to readjust for a shooting angle, and Seattle defender Lauren Barnes knocked it away.
Kansas City got an even better chance just four minutes later, when Erika Tymrak crossed a ball in from the left side to the middle of the crowded box, right to the foot of Rodriguez, whose shot floated over Seattle keeper Hope Solo’s head but hit the crossbar.
By halftime, both teams had traded some shots, and Rodriguez had the closest opportunities to goals so far. Just eight minutes into the second half, she finally managed to connect. Hagen passed a ball right between two Seattle defenders to Rodriguez, who broke off for a one-on-one with Solo. Solo came out to cut off the angle, and as she dove at the ball, Rodriguez chipped it over her head into the goal for the lead.
Seattle tried to get on the board in the 51st minute, when forward Merritt Mathias played a cross from the near side, but again no one was there to send it toward the net. Minutes later Reign defender Elli Reed set up a header for forward Beverly Yanez, but it went wide of the goal.
Hagen brought back Kansas City’s offensive effort with a shot that banked off the post, then minutes later sent a chip to Rodriguez that was just close enough for Solo to come out and grab it.
Seattle’s best chance of the game came in the 75th minute, when Reed lofted a cross from right midfield toward the top of box and Rapinoe sent a quick shot along the ground, but Barnhart tipped it away.
Both teams would get a couple more opportunities, but they would not amount to much as the Blues outlasted the Reign to record their first victory of their 2015 campaign.
The game featured six players on the national team roster, including Holiday and Rodriguez for the Blues and Rapinoe and Solo for the Reign. They’ll soon head to Canada to compete in the World Cup.
FC Kansas City looks for its second straight win when it faces the Houston Dash on Saturday, May 2, while the Seattle Reign seek a win at home against the Washington Spirit on that same day.
– MATCH REPORT –
Match: Seattle Reign FC at FC Kansas City
Date: April 23, 2015
Venue: Swope Soccer Village (Kansas City, Mo.)
Kickoff: 5 p.m. PT
Scoring Summary 1 2 F
SEA 0 0 0
FCKC 0 1 1
FCKC: Amy Rodriguez, 48’ (Hagen)
Lineups & Stats
SEA: GK Hope Solo, D Stephanie Cox, D Lauren Barnes, D Kendall Fletcher, D Elli Reed, M Keelin Winters, M Jessica Fishlock, M Kim Little, F Merritt Mathias (Foxhoven, 83), F Beverly Yanez (Dallstream, 68), F Megan Rapinoe
KC: GK Nicole Barnhart, D Amy LePeilbet, D Becky Sauerbrunn, D Becca Moros, D Leigh Ann Robinson, M Heather O’Reilly (Averbuch, 86), M Jen Buczkowski, M Erika Tymrak (Bogus, 83), M Lauren Holiday, F Sarah Hagen (Groom, 76), F Amy Rodriguez
Referee: Brandon Artis
Assistant Referees: Amanda Ross, Ryan Cook
Fourth Official: Christopher Slane
Shots: Seattle 10 / Kansas City 10
Shots on goal: Seattle 3 / Kansas City 5
Saves: Seattle (Solo) 4 / Kansas City (Barnhart) 3
Corner kicks: Seattle 4 / Kansas City 0
Fouls: Seattle 6 / Kansas City 9
Offside: Seattle 3 / Kansas City 2