FC Kansas City seemed to have all the advantages up until stoppage time on Friday night.
The Blues took a one-goal lead in the 51st minute and even went up a player after a red card, but with 10 seconds left in the game, the victory eluded them.
Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Michelle Betos followed her teammates down the field for a final push and headed in a corner kick for the equalizer. It was knocked out by Frances Silva and Becca Moros, but not quick enough, and the foul-filled affair ended in a 1-1 draw in front of more than 15,000 fans at Providence Park in Portland.
“I have to say that if we get scored on like that with 10 seconds to go and we don’t get the full three points, I’m fine with that because I know it can only happen once in 100 years,” FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “I thought we played a great game and were the better team and everything we were missing the last couple games, we had it tonight.”
The Blues fell to 4-4-2 in the all-time series that includes a semifinals match in each of the last two seasons. Each time, the winner went on to take the National Women’s Soccer League title, which currently belongs to the Blues.
The testiness reached its peak in the 70th minute when Shea Groom collided with a Thorns player, fell to the ground and then was stepped on by McCall Zerboni. Groom received a yellow card and Zerboni was shown red.
FC Kansas City’s Amy LePeilbet hit the turf twice, but continued playing despite taking a ball to the face from about 5 yards away.
Sarah Hagen, who had a shot ricochet off the right goalpost in the first half and skip across the line, got another chance after the break and headed in a free kick from Jen Buczkowski for her first goal of the season. She joined the Blues midway through the 2014 campaign and recorded four goals.
The draw continued FC Kansas City’s four-game winless streak, but snapped a two-game losing streak for the Blues, who are now to 3-4-2.
▪ Groom, who graduated from Liberty High School, was nominated by Texas A&M for the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year award. The field of 480 nominees will be narrowed down to the top 30 candidates from each division and then the committee will select one winner from the top nine. Groom recorded 41 goals and 25 assists in 84 matches for the Aggies.
FC Kansas City’s four U.S. Women’s National Team players — Lauren Holiday, Becky Sauerbrunn, Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly — will be back in action on Monday night at 7 p.m. against Columbia in Edmonton, Canada in the knockout stage of the World Cup. Katrina Gorry and the Australian team will face Brazil at noon on Sunday.