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FC Kansas City grabs spot in NWSL championship game

FC Kansas City Blues defeated the Portland Thorns FC on Saturday August 23 at Verizon Field in Durwood Stadium, to advance to the Championship of the National Women’s Soccer League. The championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m. on August 31. Kansas City remained undefeated at home during the regular season and continued the record for the playoff game.

FC Kansas City defeats Portland.
Photo by Steve Wilson

Portland defeated Seattle on Sunday August 17 1-0 to meet FC Kansas City in the semi-final round. Saturday’s match was a repeat of the 2013 semi-final match between the two teams played at the Verizon Field in Overland Park, Kan. Last year’s game resulted in the Thorns winning in overtime 2-1 and later winning the league title.

In the 20th minute Blues player, Erika Tymrak was knocked to the ground in front of the Kansas City bench. One minute later, she was again taken to the ground on the Thorns side of the field. A yellow caution card was issued to Portland for the occurrence.

The first attempt on goal by Kansas City came in the 29th minute when Lauren Holiday for Kansas City passed the ball to Amy Rodriquez who drove down field, attempting a goal shot that went high over the bar. Both teams began the playoff with aggressive offenses that were countered with more aggressive defense by both teams. Due to the extreme heat, approaching 100 degrees on the field, the game was stopped for a water break at the 30th minute.

At the resumption of play, Portland was given a free kick that was caught by the Blues goalie Nicole Barnhart. Moments later Rodriquez had a second shot on goal from the right that was blocked by Nadine Angerer for Portland. In the 38th minute Tymrak was knocked hard to the ground, needing help from the bench. A free kick for Portland resulted in an off sides call against the visitors and a free kick awarded to Kansas City.

In the four minutes of stoppage time Portland had a shot on goal from the right side that hit a post and Kansas City recovered it. At the end of the extra time, the score remained 0-0.

At the beginning of the second half both teams took shots on goal from wide left and both going high. The first score of the game came in the 63rd minute with a pass from Holiday to Rodriquez on the left who was able to take advantage of Angerer who had fallen to the ground. Portland had only come back from behind one time in the regular season to win.

Jessica McDonald came onto the field in the 67th minute for Tobin Heath of Portland. A foul by Kansas City in the 71st minute gave Portland a free kick that went wide right of the goal. After a water break, Meleana Shim substituted for Portland replacing Christine Sinclair. Sinclair is number three all time in international play.

In the 82nd minute, Kassey Kallman of Kansas City received a yellow card, giving Portland a free kick and Sarah Hagen substituted for Amy Rodriquez before the free kick was attempted. At the 85th minute, Amy LePeilbet replaced Merritt Mathias on the field.

A second goal by Kansas City came in the 86th minute with Hagan passing to Holiday who hit from the left side of the goal, giving KC a 2-0 lead. In the 88th minute Holiday had another chance for goal that went wide right. In the 89th minute Kansas City substituted Katrina Gorry for Tymrak. Five minutes of stoppage time was added at the end of regulation.

At the completion of the stoppage time Kansas City was able to hold on to the 2-0 lead and advance to the Championship game. The Blues face the winner of the Seattle/Washington game scheduled for Sunday August 24.

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