Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Holiday have been connecting for goals all season. Today was no different.
Rodriguez put in two goals while Holiday provided the assists as FC Kansas City won the NWSL Championship, defeating the Seattle Reign 2-1 at Starfire Sports Complex.
For the first fifteen minutes or so, Seattle was controlling possession and creating some opportunities. The Blues were able to hold defensively and not allow the Reign to get anything substantial towards goal.
The Blues went ahead in the 22nd minute by doing what they have been doing all season. Amy Rodriguez made a nice, off the ball move to get behind the Reign defense and get open for a through ball from Lauren Holiday. Rodriguez finished the open shot for the goal to put the Blues ahead 1-0.
Seattle, however, was a team used to playing from behind, having gotten a result in ten matches where they had fallen behind this season. They created a great chance in the 30th minute when Kim Little sent in a cross that met the head of Naho but it went just wide. Their dangerous attack would keep the Blues on their toes for the rest of the game.
The Blues almost doubled their lead in the 36th minute when Rodriguez received another beautiful through ball and shot near post but it went just wide.
Megan Rapinoe almost found an equalizer in the 41st minute when she took a curling shot from distance but it was saved nicely by Barnhart. That would be the last good opportunity of the half as the Blues took a 1-0 lead into the half.
Seattle opened up the second half looking for the quick equalizer and almost got it in the 53rd minute. Rapinoe was taken down just outside the box right in the middle. The ensuing free kick got past the wall but was right at Barnhart, who made the save.
FC Kansas City gave themselves some breathing room in the 56th minute with another great Holiday to Rodriguez connection. Holiday weaved in and out of the defense as she entered the far side of the box and found an open Rodriguez in the middle. Rodriguez was able to take the pass and finish it to the near post for her second goal of the game. This gave the Blues a very important 2-0 lead.
In the 63rd minute, Amy Rodriguez seemed to pull up lame after a collision with a couple of Reign players. She would come off and be replaced by Sarah Hagen. Rodriguez finished her FC Kansas City season with 16 goals, the most in FC Kansas City's history.
In the 84th minute the Reign almost pulled one back when Rapinoe rocketed a shot from the top of the box that hit the connection between the crossbar and the post. FC Kansas City was fortunate to not give up a goal there, the second goal from Rodriguez becoming more and more important.
The Reign did finally pull one back in the 86th minute. Following a corner kick and chaos in the box, Megan Rapinoe received the deflection in the middle of the box and put it in for the goal. This gave the Reign some hope going into the final five minutes.
The last few minutes of the game were filled with high tension as the Reign pressed hard for the equalizing goal. The Blues' defense, however, remained strong, as they held on to win the NWSL Championship in an incredibly exciting match.
This is the first NWSL title for FC Kansas City in the league's short history. This also completed the Kansas City trifecta with Sporting Kansas City winning the MLS Cup, the Missouri Comets winning the MISL Championship and the Blues winning the NWSL Championship. It was Vlatko Andonovski's second title as he is also head coach of the Comets.
With a star above their crest, the Blues will return next March to once again go for the NWSL title, now able to call themselves "champions."