For the second straight year, Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City squared off in the NWSL Final. For the second straight year, Kansas City walked away as champions. Amy Rodriguez scored the game-winning goal in the 78th minute and that was all that was needed.
Both teams seemed hesitant to really go all out on attack as they were afraid of being hit on a counter. The first thirty minutes of the match saw a lot of the play in the midfield. Seattle had a majority of the early chances, but failed in the final third with their passes.
You could see why these two teams were the best when it came to defense this season. They both displayed it in this match. They would bend, but not break.
Just prior to the first half ending, Jess Fishlock was injured when Jen Buczkowski and her both converged on a loose ball. Buczkowski appeared to catch Fishlock with her studs. Could have possibly been worthy of a card, but the ref decided against it. Fishlock was able to continue.
After two minutes of stoppage time, it was tied 0-0 at the half. This was the first NWSL Final to ever be scoreless heading into the half.
The first five minutes of the second half were controlled by Kansas City as they looked to get on the board. But as the second half wore on, Seattle slowly started taking over. The closest the Reign came to scoring was in the 63rd minute when Megan Rapinoe hit the post on her shot. Rapinoe received a pass from Merritt Mathias about 28 yards from goal and fired a shot. She had Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart beat on her curling shot, but not the post.
In the 78th minute, Kansas City struck. Rodriguez received a cross from Heather O’Reilly in the center of the box. She was essentially left unmarked and was able to get her head on the cross. It wasn’t a powerful shot, but there was just enough on it to sneak past Hope Solo. It appeared that Solo slipped as she was trying to change direction to save the shot.
At that point, Seattle threw everyone forward while Kansas City was content to sit back and defend. The last solid chance for the Reign came in the 86th minute. Katrine Veje played a ball at the top of the six yard box. Rapinoe got her foot on it, but no power was behind the shot and Barnhart easily made the save.
In stoppage time, Seattle earned a free kick and Seattle sent everyone forward. That also included Solo. The free kick from Rapinoe went through the box harmlessly and out for a goal kick.
After five minutes of stoppage time, Kansas City became NWSL champions once again. Another great season of NWSL soccer is in the books and Kansas City will look to defend their title once again. Seattle will look to improve and win more than just the regular season title.