Seattle Reign FC came to Durwood Stadium unbeaten and untied in the second season of National Women’s Soccer League play.
FC Kansas City wasn’t able to hand Seattle its first loss. But Wednesday’s 1-1 draw did make the Blues the first team to earn a point against the Reign this season.
The two clubs met in Seattle last week, a 3-2 Reign victory. Wednesday’s result wasn’t ideal for FCKC, 3-4-3, but it’s a start.
“I think both matches, I feel like we outplayed them, especially the first time we played them,” FCKC forward Amy Rodriguez said. “The result today is a little bit better, but I feel this team has the potential to win, and I’m disappointed we didn’t.”
Rodriguez set the Blues in motion toward a victory in the 42nd minute, when she sent a left-footed scorcher from the top of the 18-yard box past Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo for a 1-0 lead. It was a world-class strike, and it was her league-leading seventh goal of the season.
“I think (Solo) got a tap on it, and I think that really bugs her,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “It was just enough out of her reach that I felt good about it, and I was happy to put our team up a goal.”
The euphoria didn’t last long. Seattle, 7-0-1, equalized just before halftime when Amy Little converted a penalty kick in the 45th minute. The goal was Little’s seventh of the season, tying her for the league lead with Rodriguez.
FCKC’s Nikki Phillips was whistled for a foul in the 18-yard box. It was a call that the Blues weren’t thrilled about.
“I was far away. However, I thought it was really unfortunate that we got that call against us, especially in the last minute of the first half,” Rodriguez said.
FCKC coach Vlatko Andonovski didn’t get an explanation of the call beyond the replay he was able to see at halftime. Seeing it a second time didn’t change his opinion.
“I just question the penalty kick. I don’t know if it was a penalty kick. We had a chance to look at it on the video at halftime and it didn’t look like (one), but it is what it is. The game is over,” Andonovski said.
Each club generated some scoring opportunities in the second half, but neither Solo or FCKC’s Nicole Barnhart — the top two keepers for the U.S. women’s national team — were severely tested.
Wednesday marked FCKC’s sixth of seven matches in May. And while the Blues would’ve loved the chance to take three points from Seattle, there is much to be positive about, starting with Rodriguez’s play.
“The lady comes out and just makes it happen for us. When you feel like things are not going well, boom, she comes out with a big goal and turns the whole game around,” Andonovski said. “I don’t know if it’s weird or cocky to say that’s what we expected from her … but that’s why we got her.”
Plus, the schedule relents just a bit after Saturday’s match at Boston.
“They’re tired, fatigued, but they came out and played 100 percent,” Andonovski said. “It’s like it’s the first game. I love it. I love the mentality and attitude of the players.”