In the much anticipated rematch of the NWSL Championship game, FC Kansas City again came out victorious. This time a lone goal from Amy Rodriguez was all that was needed to secure the win and get the Blues their first victory of the season.
With two losses coming into the match despite not playing badly, Blues head coach Vlatko Andonovski changed up his starting lineup a bit. Forward Sarah Hagen started up top next to Rodriguez and Yael Averbuch was on the bench leaving Jen Buczkowski as the only defensive midfielder.
"We analyzed the past two games a lot and we felt there were little pieces that we were missing and we felt bringing in Apple (Sarah Hagen) into the lineup was going to give us those little things, especially against Seattle and it seems like it worked," said Andonovski.
"Offensively the connection between Apple and A-Rod was very good," Andonovski continued. "One thing we were missing in the previous games was that we felt we left A-Rod on an island by herself and now she had a friend."
That partnership worked well at times and especially well once. In the 49th minute, Becky Sauerbrunn intercepted a Seattle play, played a quick give and go with fellow U.S. squad member Lauren Holiday allowing Sauerbrunn to slot it forward to Hagen who in turn quickly split the defense to Rodriguez. A-Rod then just did what she does best, run at goal and score.
"Saw Hope coming out very strong and I just lifted it over her and it felt so good when it hit the back of the net," Rodriguez explained.
"We like winning, it feels so good. It feels good to get on the scoreboard," Rodriguez beamed with a huge smile. "This is my last game before heading to the World Cup and I feel good leaving the team with a win. Hopefully they are just going to build on this and keep going from here."
Seattle loves A-Rod (or not)
Seattle head coach Laura Harvey has a load of respect for Rodriguez and is starting to really hate facing her. "She is quick, she's clever, she plays on the wrong side of the defenders a lot and then gets herself back onside just in time," Harvey said of Rodriguez. "We know this about her and we know her traits, but it's difficult to stop and when she is on form, in my opinion there is not many better than her and she is starting to become the biggest pain in my life."
When asked about Harvey's comment, Rodriguez flashed her second big smile of the press conference and replied, "she just told me that I was a pain in her ass outside which I laugh about, we are on good terms and I am happy to be that."
"And she very quickly becomes one of the most important people in my life," Andonovski was quick to add.
It was the first match at FC Kansas City's new home at Swope Soccer Village. They opened the season at Sporting Park with a 1-0 loss to Sky Blue but they really wanted to make a good impression in their new home.
"The whole event was very good, the field is one of the best if not the best in the league and the players really enjoyed it. The atmosphere around was very good, we did a very good job with the fans," Andonovski observed.