In a rematch of last year's NWSL final, FC Kansas City hosts the Seattle Reign tonight at 7:00 PM in their first match at their new home at Swope Soccer Village. The defending champions are 0-2 and the Blues are looking to get headed in the right direction.
In both of their previous matches, the Blues out shot their opponents but struggled to find the back of the net. With returning the bulk of their goal scoring from last season in Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Holiday and both of them coming from US camp, it has been a little surprising that they have only scored once. That goal was by offseason acquisition Heather O'Reilly.
With the Blues struggling to find he back of the net and facing not only one of the toughest teams from last season but also the team that will be seeking revenge for the loss in the NWSL Championship. Throw in a motivated Hope Solo and it will be a tough task for FC Kansas City.
While it is the second match in Kansas City it will be the Blues first match at their new Swope Soccer Village home. As part of their new working partnership with Sporting Kansas City, the Blues are using the Championship field at Swope. The players are excited about using the beautiful grass field there for their matches. It is considered to be one of the best surfaces in several hundred miles and may even be better than Sporting Park's grass.
When asked about facing one of their toughest opponents while his team is not at their peak, FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski had this response:
"We may not be playing at our best but we are not playing bad is one thing. Another is that when you play the best teams in the league you always want to do your best. Third is that we are 0-2 so we are going to do everything we can to win this game. We are going to come out as strong as possible and play our best soccer."
On the importance of this game:
"This game is very important for us, after this we have two away games that are not going to be easy for us so we are very aware of how important this game and these points are for us," Andonovski replied.
On what they will need to do to beat Seattle:
"We know Seattle is very strong in the middle of the field so one thing we have to do is slow them down with Kim Little and Jessica Fishlock . We've got to prevent balls going to them and from them to the forwards is one focus. Another is we have to be very careful of Megan Rapinoe, she is a player that can change the game with one or two things. We saw that in the first game where she scored a hat trick," Andonovski explained.
Forward Amy Rodriguez on this being the last game before returning to U.S. camp:
"It's one last chance to put some points on the board for Kansas City. I'm disappointed because we came back to help the team and I hope we get points from this game because we did not in the last two."
Is there a rivalry with Seattle from last year?
"A little carry over from last year but I am sure they hate our guts because we killed them in the final and I don't blame them. It will turn into a rivalry but there are so few teams in the league so it feels like we hate every single one of them. We hate everybody," Rodriguez explained.
The match will likely have six U.S. National Team players making their last appearance with their club teams before leaving for preparations for the Women's World Cup. FC Kansas City with . Amy Rodriguez, Heather O'Reilly, Lauren Holiday and Becky Sauerbrunn and Seattle with Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe.
Andonovski will probably go with the same starting eleven as the first two matches in a probable 4-2-3-1 Nicole Barnhart in goal, Leigh Ann Robinson, Sauerbrunn, Amy LePeilbet and Rebecca Moros across the back line. Iron woman Jen Buczkowski and Yael Averbuch at holding mid. Lauren Holiday in the middle flanked by Erika Tymrak and O'Reilly with Rodriguez as the lone forward.
If they are pushing for goals late the Blues may switch to a 3-5-2 and bring in rookie Shea Groom or veterans Sarah Hagen and Frances Silva for some scoring punch.