FC Kansas City Wins Back-To-Back NWSL Titles, Defeat Seattle

The champions hoist the trophy. (Photo: FC Kansas City)

By MC Bousquette

Despite a number of dangerous chances for the 2015 NWSL Shield winning Seattle Reign FC, FC Kansas City emerged as the NWSL champion for the second year in a row.

Amy Rodriguez scored the lone goal of the match, propelling Kansas City to the league title in front of a 13,264 fans at Providence Park.

Both teams began with an intense, high-paced back and forth, battling for control in the midfield and running into disciplined defensive fronts. Rodriguez sent a ball towards the corner of the goal in the 13th minute, but Hope Solo‘s diving save stopped the slow shot. A-Rod had another opportunity just minutes later, but cleared the ball wide.

The Reign were far from complacent, and tried their hand at a goal in the 18th, as Stephanie Cox sent a solid shot right into Nicole Barnhart‘s hands. Kim Little joined in the 20th minute, sending a line drive into Barnhart’s hands.

As both clubs tore up and down the field, FC Kansas City had perhaps their most threatening attempt of the night in the 27th minute, as Amy LePeilbet threw herself into a diving header, but missed just wide of post.

Both sides struggled to find opportunities as the defenders stood strong on both ends of the field. Lauren Holiday almost broke the stalemate off a dangerous free kick that was nudged out of bounds by Megan Rapinoe.

In the 40th minute, Jen Buczkowski slid into Fishlock studs up, taking her down for several minutes as Fishlock held her leg in pain. She finished the half, but with significant physical difficulty. The final dangerous attempt of the half came on a connection between Rapinoe and Bev Yanez, but Yanez’ shot wound up in Barnhart’s hands.

After a hard-fought first half, both sides returned to the locker room scoreless. Seattle came out firing to begin the second half, but an early effort from Yanez in to Little was thwarted by the FCKC back line. FC Kansas City retorted, as both Heather O’Reilly and Rodriguez took shots quickly recovered by Solo.

Seattle came close to an equalizer in the 52nd as Merritt Mathias sent a strong ball in to Yanez, whose header was saved ably by Barnhart. Moments later, Rapinoe went down at the top of the box, earning Seattle a free kick. The kick, however, was sent over the crossbar by Kim Little, and the opportunity squandered.

The Reign attempted again and again to penetrate FC Kansas City’s back line, but were unable to get beyond the defense and Barnhart, who were at the top of their game throughout the match. In the 60th minute, Kendall Fletcher sent a cross towards goal, but the chance ended as it nailed the crossbar and rolled out of bounds. Yet another shot from Seattle came in the 63rd, as Rapinoe’s strike hit the post and stayed out of goal.

After Rapinoe’s near-success, the tide turned and FC Kansas City accelerated visibly. This change of pace paid off when, in the 78th minute, a connection from O’Reilly to Holiday found Rodriguez’ forehead and, subsequently, the back of the goal.

Although Seattle didn’t concede after Rodriguez’ goal, no member of the Reign was able to equalize. Rapinoe came close in the 86th minute, striking a ball from the recently substituted Katrine Veje into Barnhart. In the 90th minute, Seattle was awarded another free kick. Solo joined the rest of the team in the box, and almost reached the ball after Barnhart deflected it, but couldn’t quite get there in time to execute on the header.

After five minutes of stoppage time in the second half, the match concluded at 1-0 with FC Kansas City once again the NWSL Champions.