FC Kansas City falls to Portland 3-2 in NWSL semifinals

08/24/2013 9:18 PM

08/24/2013 9:18 PM

This again? Yes, this again.

The inability to hold onto a lead — kryptonite for an otherwise impressive FC Kansas City inaugural season — resurfaced Saturday at a most inopportune time.

Portland FC erased an early two-goal deficit, and Allie Long scored 13 minutes into the first overtime and led the Thorns past FC Kansas City 3-2 in the National Women’s Soccer League semifinals at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.

A recognizable ending throughout the regular season also provided the final conclusion for the Blues’ postseason fate.

“It’s a tough end,” FC coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “A very familiar end for us.“

Long missed her first chance in overtime. She wouldn’t miss her second.

Two minutes after goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart stoned Long’s quality shot in overtime, Long buried a shot from just behind the penalty kick dot.

FC Kansas City was unable to create any game-tying opportunities on net in the second 15-minute overtime period.

“That save was a little disappointing, but it was also motivating,” Long said. “Whenever a save like that happens, it just inspires you.”

It was simply the final tally in a well-timed comeback.

Portland FC wiped away the Blues’ early 2-0 advantage with a goal by Tobin Heath in the 33rd minute and another from Tiffany Weimer in the 65th minute.

The Thorns will move on to the championship match on Aug. 31, and will face the Western New York, which beat Sky Blue FC 2-0 Saturday night.

“It’s disappointing. That’s something we’re going to have to work on in the offseason,” FC Kansas City captain Becky Sauerbrunn said of giving away leads. “We have to figure out what it is and just learn how to win games.”

Especially when things start so well.

FC Kansas City needed only 12 minutes to grab a lead in Saturday’s semifinal. After collecting a pass from 22 yards out, Erika Tymrak turned and fired, beating Portland FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc on the far post. Tymrak was voted the NWSL rookie of the year on Tuesday.

FC Kansas City cushioned its lead in the 25th minute. A week after Andonovski said striker Melissa Henderson needed to provide goals, she did just that. Henderson got her first score of the season on a header off a crossing pass from Merritt Mathias for a two-goal lead.

It didn’t last.

Playing without star forward Alex Morgan, who sat out because of a sprained MCL in her left knee, Portland FC scored three unanswered goals — all on crossing passes. Heath narrowed the gap to one in the first half, taking advantage of a giveaway from Sauerbrunn, who earlier this week was chosen the NWSL’s top defender. Weimer, who assisted on the game-winner, found a loose ball in the goalie box for her game-trying score in the second half.

It marked the fifth time this season FC Kansas City was unable to make a second-half lead stick for a victory.

“I think my giving the ball away shifted the momentum of the game,” Sauerbrunn said. “They were coming at us from the get-go, but we were weathering the storm. When we got that first goal, we got the momentum. But I think when I gave the ball away, it shifted. They had the upper hand the rest of the game.”

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