Seattle Reign FC will attempt to win its first NWSL Championship against defending champions FC Kansas City
Seattle Reign FC will attempt to win its first NWSL Championship in club history on Thursday, October 1 at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. against FC Kansas City (9-6-5) in the NWSL Championship match. The game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live across the nation on Fox Sports 1.
Reign FC, the NWSL Shield winners for a second consecutive season, clinched its spot in the championship match on Sunday, September 13 with a 3-0 victory over the Washington Spirit. The match remained knotted at 0-0 for 71 minutes before Seattle answered with three goals in the final twenty minutes to punch a ticket to the title game.
In the 70th minute, forward Beverly Yanez subbed into her first NWSL game in three weeks after suffering an injury in late August. A minute late and with her first touch of the match, Yanez tapped in Seattle’s opening goal of the night on a cross from midfielder Megan Rapinoe.
Five minutes later, Rapinoe tallied a goal of her own to double Reign FC’s advantage. Midfielder Kim Little carried the ball into space before laying it out wide for Rapinoe who dribbled it into the 18-yard box before blasting a shot past goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for the second goal.
One more Reign FC substitute would have an immediate impact as midfielder Mariah Bullock used her first touch of the match to bring the final score to 3-0. In the 90th minute, Harris batted a corner kick away but it fell perfectly to Bullock who volleyed the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
On the defensive end Solo was forced to make just one save as Reign FC’s midfield and defensive unit stifled the Spirit before they could create any danger.
FC Kansas City knocked off the Chicago Red Stars 3-0 on September 13 in Chicago to clinch their spot in the championship match as Amy Rodriguez netted a brace and Erika Tymrak scored a goal of her own as well.
Seattle and Kansas City met twice during the regular season, with both sides taking a win at home. The first time the two sides squared off, at Swope Soccer Village on April 23, Seattle fell 1-0 behind a goal from Rodriguez.
In the teams’ second and final matchup on the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium on June 27, Yanez and Little scored to defeat FC Kansas City 2-1.
Seattle finished the regular season atop the league standings for a second straight year with a total of 43 points—10 points ahead of the second place team—and locked down the NWSL Shield on August 26 with a 3-0 win over the Boston Breakers. Seattle also outscored opponents 26-8 when at home and 15-13 when on the road during the regular season.
Individually, Little had another banner year in her second season stateside, leading the league in assists with 7 as well as finishing tied for second in goals scored 10. Little was also voted NWSL Player of the Month in August following her first NWSL career hat-trick against the Houston Dash on August 21. Yanez was a pivotal force in Reign FC’s attack and finished the season fifth in goal scored with 9 while midfielder Jessica Fishlock finished the season sixth in goals scored with 8.
Reign FC had four different players earn Player of the Week honors including Rapinoe in Week 1, Fishlock in Week 9, Yanez in Week 15, and Little in week 19.
Additionally, Little, Fishlock, Yanez, and Lauren Barnes were all voted to the NWSL’s Best XI, while Keelin Winters, Stephanie Cox, Kendall Fletcher, and Megan Rapinoe made the NWSL Second XI.
FC Kansas City finished third in the NWSL in 2015, 11 points behind Seattle. Rodriguez lead her team in scoring with six goals, as well as adding two more in the playoffs. Kansas City’s defense allowed the fewest goals in 2015 at 20 while defender Becky Sauerbrunn was voted NWSL Defender of the Year. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart finished first in the league in shutouts with eight, while defenders Leigh Ann Brown and Amy LePeilbet played every minute of the NWSL season for the Blues.
This is the second time Reign FC and FC Kansas City will meet in a NWSL Championship Final after Seattle fell 2-1 to the Blues in 2014. Reign FC will look to flip the script on the defending champions and bring Seattle its first NWSL Championship title.
“The mindset is different this year,” said head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “It’s more focused. More driven. We want to make sure that when it comes to the game, we put everything out there to make sure that we win it. And if [not winning in 2014] gives us that extra little bit of edge tomorrow, then I think we will look back on it and say that the experience of last season has done us well going into this season. We’ll find out tomorrow if that’s the case.”
The 2015 NWSL Championship Game featuring FC Kansas City vs. Seattle Reign FC will be held on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 6:30 pm PT on FOX Sports 1 at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. Tickets are available for purchase by calling (888) 736-6849 or online at www.portlandthornsfc.com.
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