FC Kansas City beat Seattle Reign 2015 NWSL championship Match
Amy Rodriguez scored off a header in the 78th minute and FC Kansas City sent midfielder Lauren Holiday into retirement with a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Reign for the National Women’s Soccer League championship game Thursday night.
Rodriguez scored off a cross from Heather O’Reilly. Just moments later there was a scary moment when Holiday went down and a stretcher was brought on to the field.
Holiday walked to the sideline on her own and eventually returned for the final minutes of her last competitive game.
Holiday announced plans to step away from the game in July, shortly after winning the Fifa Women’s World Cup with the US national team, but she vowed to first finish out the season with her NWSL club.
It was the Blues’ second straight championship. The two also met in the final match last season, with Kansas City winning 2-1.
Seattle was undefeated in nine straight matches going into the championship, and had not dropped a match since 18 July at the Washington Spirit.
The Blues finished 10-6-5 this season, with a roster that includes US national team players Holiday, Rodriguez, O’Reilly and Becky Sauerbrunn. Those players missed a number of games because of the World Cup in Canada.
Kansas City had a league-high 10 shutouts this season, including the final, and allowed opponents an average of just one goal per game. The Blues defeated the Chicago Red Stars in the semifinals to advance.
This was the Blues’ third straight appearance in the postseason: The Portland Thorns won the league’s inaugural championship in 2013.
The Reign (13-4-4) finished with the league’s best record and defeated the Washington Spirit 3-0 to earn a spot in the title game. Seattle’s roster includes national team players Megan Rapinoe and goalkeeper Hope Solo.
The Reign had their first chance in the 20th minute, when Kim Little’s shot off a feed from Rapinoe was blocked byKansas City goal keeper Nicole Barnhart.
Rapinoe had another shot from some 25 yards out in the 63rd minute that was out of Barnhart’s reach but hit the post and sailed away from the goal.
Holiday was swarmed by her teammates following the match, and she and good friend Rodriguez hugged for several moments. Rapinoe also came over to embrace Holiday.
Holiday, an Indianapolis native and UCLA product, has scored 24 goals in 130 games with the US team since making her senior debut in January 2007. She won gold in Beijing and London while playing a steady midfield role for the American team.
She was the NWSL’s Player of the Year in 2013. Also known by her maiden name Cheney, Holiday is married to Jrue Holiday, a fellow Bruin who is currently playing for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.
“I don’t think that I’m done with soccer, like that I don’t love the game anymore, that I’m not passionate. It’s more so that there’s other things I want to do,” Holiday said this week. “Soccer consumes me. I’m not a player that can turn it off. I’m not a player that can say, ‘I’m going to focus on something else this month.’ . There are other passions that I have that I want to explore.”
The match, for the first time held at a neutral site, drew 13,264 fans to Providence Park. The stadium is home to the NWSL’s Thorns, which by far led the league in attendance with over 15,000 fans per match.
Source courtesy of: theguardian.com
Photo courtesy of: Craig Mitchelldyer/AP