The Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City squared off for the first time since Kansas City defeated Seattle, 1-0, in the 2015 NWSL Championship game at Providence Park in Portland, OR on October 1, 2015. Seattle would return the favor and beat the two-time defending champions, 1-0, on a sun drenched field in downtown Seattle at Memorial Stadium. Kim Little scored the lone goal in the 56th minute of the match.
Kansas City came into the game looking for their first win of the season while Seattle was looking to make it two wins in a row after their season opening loss to Sky Blue FC.
The first 15 minutes of the game saw a lot of Seattle controlling the action, but both teams appeared to be feeling each other out. Both teams were very physical in the game with a lot of hard challenges being given out by both Seattle and Kansas City.
Kansas City seems different in 2016
In the first half, Kansas City didn’t appear to be the same Kansas City team we are used to watch the last few years. Granted, they were essentially playing with their third choice striker in Caroline Kastor. Shea Groom was out due to the red card she received last week and Tiffany McCarty was out due to injury (right hamstring strain). Kansas City was content to sit back and absorb any and all pressure that Seattle could throw at them and then try to hit them on the counter-attack. There were a few times that Kansas City tried to counter them, but the defense of Seattle was able to get back and stop any real threats.
Seattle almost got on the board early in the second half. In the 48th minute, Melon Melis found herself one-on-one with goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. Melis has Barnhart beat, but not the goal. Her shot just missed being on target and hit the outside of the net.
Kim Little breaks through for Seattle
Finally, in the 56th minute Kim Little and Seattle got on the board. After some great work on the far side of the field, Little found the ball at her feet. After some nifty footwork to create space, Little fired her shot into the left side of the net for a 1-0 lead. In the 65th minute, Little almost got on the board again, but Barnhart was there to stop her shot.
Late in the match, Kansas City pushed all of their players forward looking for the all-important game-tying goal. They never found it. After three minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew the whistle for the final time.
With the win, Seattle now has two straight wins and two straight shutouts. Kim Little registered her second goal of the young season. She was truly amazing to watch in this game. She played a little deeper than she normally does when Jess Fishlock is on the field. She knows how important it is that they team grinds out wins while missing Fishlock and Megan Rapinoe to injuries.
“I thought it was very ‘Reign – Kansas,’” said Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey. “It was very tactical and edgy. I said to the girls that every game we play against them is pretty much like that. There’s limited chances and it could come down to mistakes or a bit of brilliance. Thankfully today, Kim’s bit of brilliance won us the game.”
Kansas City (0-2-1) is still winless three games into the season. They will look for their first win of the season next weekend when they host the Houston Dash (1-1-1) on Saturday, May 7th. Seattle (2-1-0) will hit the road and take on expansion side Orlando Pride (1-2-0) next Sunday, May 8th.
Here are how the NWSL standings look after three weeks into the season.
Postgame Press Conference
Rookie Carson Pickett
Goal scorer Kim Little