For nearly 30 minutes, FC Kansas City appeared to have the second spot in the National Women’s Soccer League Playoffs wrapped up with home field advantage on its side.
However, the Blues saw their lead disappear as they surrendered a pair of unanswered goals in the second half and eventually lost 2-1 to the Washington Spirit on Wednesday night at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
“They were a little better than us the first half and in the second half we even upped our game, but they scored on the restart and that was really the difference,” Blues coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
With the victory, Washington jumped Portland Thorns FC to take over third place in the NWSL standings and cut FC Kansas City’s second-place lead to six points. FC Kansas City fell to 11-6-4 with three games left in the regular season.
The Blues took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute with an unlikely goal from 2013 NWSL Defender of the Year Becky Sauerbrunn who tapped in an assist from fellow national team member Sarah Hagen for her first goal in two seasons with FC Kansas City.
“I really wanted to win on the goal by Becky because it was a thing of beauty,” Andonovski said.
It was her first goal since 2012 with W-League D.C. United and just her second since she scored in 2009 for the Washington Freedom of Women’s Professional Soccer. Hagen collected her first NWSL assist in six games since joining FC Kansas City from Bayern Munich in Germany.
Although the Spirit had seven shots in the first half, the Blues held them scoreless until the 49th minute when Kerstin Garefrekes knocked in the equalizer on an assist from Lisa DeVanna. Shortly thereafter, FC Kansas City subbed in Amy Rodriguez, who leads the team in scoring with 11 goals including three in the previous two games with the Spirit.She had skipped the start to get rest before the team’s matchup on Saturday with league-leading Seattle Reign FC. Rodriguez tallied three shots, but could not convert.
Christine Nairn added the go-ahead goal in the 67th minute off DeVanna’s second assist of the night. It was Nairn’s second goal in three games against FC Kansas City.
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