FC Kansas City (14-7-5) won 2-1 over the Seattle Reign FC (17-3-6) at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington to claim possession of the 2014 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) title on Sunday, August 31, 2014.
Broadcast live on ESPN2, KC upset the heavy favorites in front of 4,252 fans in attendance.
KC's Amy Rodriguez assisted by Lauren Holiday was a common theme this season and that continued in the Championship game as Holiday's creative play provided service for both of Rodriguez’s goals.
Seattle came out flying, creating numerous opportunities but the KC defense matched the pressure and according to KC's head coach Vlatko Andonovski, that was all part of their plan.
“Tactically we knew the first twenty minutes was going to be pressure coming from everywhere,” said Andonovski after the match. “Pressure was going to be coming from the front line, the middle, the back, from the fans the coaches, from everywhere. We knew they were going to throw everything at us. The job was to stay firm the first twenty minutes and then start playing our game right after that.”
KC got on the board first in the 22nd minute when Holiday made a wide diagonal run into the box. All the while, Amy Rodriguez ran wide and then back across the top of the box along the defensive seam. It was similar to the run she made for the winning goal in the semi-final against Portland.
Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo charged towards the striker, but ARod calmly looped it over her U.S. Women's National Team teammate. Rodriguez finished the regular season (second in goals to Kim Little) with 13 goals, 3 assists. Watch the Goal!
The best chance for Seattle came just a few minutes later when a cross found forward Naho Kawasumi on the back post. KC keeper Nicole Barnhart shifted to cover, but it would have been a difficult save if Kawasumi had not directed the header just wide.
Seattle kept up the pressure throughout the rest of the half while FC Kansas City continued to play an organized defense while never relinquishing an attacking presence.
Holiday, the 2013 NWSL Golden Boot and MVP dribbled through pressure with defenders all over her and into the Seattle box. While fending off the unrelenting Seattle defense, Holiday looked up and saw Rodriguez near the penalty spot. From that range, Solo had little chance on Rodriguez’s sliding blast. Watch the Goal!
In the 63rd minute, Rodriguez went down with an unspecified injury - subbed out for Sarah Hagen.
Down 2-0, Seattle continued applying the pressure, as they've been known to do. And in the 87th minute, Seattle midfielder Mariah Nogueira knocked a header off the post creating an ensuing scramble that allowed forward Megan Rapinoe to blast a shot past KC goalkeeper Barnhart. Watch the Goal!
With the lead cut in half and time running out, the Reign threw everyone up front, even sending Solo forward, but KC held on to claim the 2014 NWSL Championship title.
"It’s great for our organization," said Holiday. "We’ve been consistent both years. We played well and we played good soccer. It’s such a great feeling to bring one home to Kansas City.”
This is the second championship this year for Coach Vlatko Andonovski. He led the Missouri Comets to the MISL Championship game where they defeated Baltimore to become the 2013-14 MISL Champions.
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