Last season Seattle only lost two games in the entire regular season. This year it's taken them three games to lose two. After last weekend's loss on a counterattacking breakaway from Christen Press, tonight they gave up a goal to Amy Rodriguez on a counterattacking breakaway just after halftime and were unable to answer.
The game opened well for the Reign, who had most of the possession through the first half and had some dangerous buildup, particularly through ex-KC player Merritt Mathias on the right flank. But the buildup was never able to turn into a quality chance as the Blues defenders did a solid job of cutting out the final pass. Meanwhile dangerous turnovers in the midfield created multiple chances for Rodriguez, including one that went off the crossbar.
The second half opened with the KC goal and even with the Blues conceding even more possession with the lead, the Reign couldn't penetrate for a good chance. Their first quality shot on goal didn't come until the 75th minute, when Megan Rapinoe shot a volley from the top of the box that forced Nicole Barnhart into a diving save. That was their last, best chance and bad touches and lack of space meant the game petered out without much excitement.
The similarity of the chances allowed by Seattle this season is pretty stark. They are a possession team and are set up to always be a possession team. That means other teams are going to try to hit them on the break, and thus far the midfield has failed to prevent the killer through balls and the defense has failed to be fast enough to stay with attackers in space.
Fixing the latter is going to require either a personnel change to faster defenders or a back line that isn't pushing so far forward. Fixing the former is going to require more discipline from the defensive midfield, from which Jess Fishlock and Keelin Winters were roaming frequently.
The more optimistic view is that this was a very tough game on short rest and they only lost by a goal. Arguably, the toughest games on the schedule this season were at Chicago (which has always been a tough trip) and at KC. And now Seattle is done with both, at least for the regular season. Of the next 6 games, 4 are at home and the others are at the rather less formidable Sky Blue and Boston Breakers. That's a stretch in which the Reign could get back in the habit of winning. But they're going to have to figure some things out before the harder matches start coming around again.