A win would have kept Seattle Reign FC’s improbable if not impossible hopes of returning to the NWSL Playoffs alive. A win would have also been the start of a storybook send-off to a Reign FC Original. Sometimes, though, the things we hope for do not become reality — as was the cast when Seattle Reign FC fell to FC Kansas City 1-0 at Memorial Stadium in their final home match of the 2017 season.
Before kickoff, players from both Seattle Reign FC and FC Kansas City were not on the field for the national anthem, showing solidarity with NFL and WNBA players who demonstrated during Sunday’s games in response to comments made by President Donald Trump on Friday about those calling for racial equality and against police brutality.
Reign FC came off the block fast and frenzied. They were hungry to score and score early. The start of the match was something that FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski said “looked like a playoff game. The pace was great, the quality of the play was great and Seattle came out and set the rhythm that I gotta be honest at the beginning, didn’t know if we were gonna follow.”
The signature defense of FC Kansas City was indeed tested as Seattle’s season was on the line. Credit to Kansas City as they were able to weather Seattle’s barrage.
The lone goal in the match came from Kansas City’s Shea Groom who collected a perfect through ball from Sydney Leroux in the 23rd minute and slotted it past the left side of Reign FC goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
Sydney Leroux with the perfect through ball that finds Shea Groom for the finish. 1-0 to the visitors. pic.twitter.com/u8jeWlLQHw— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) September 25, 2017
However, Seattle kept at it, knocking on Kansas City’s door to try and get the equalizer, which definitely would have turned the momentum and encouraged them to get another to secure a victory. What Seattle lacked, though, was that last touch of quality whenever they were in Kansas City’s box to put on a shot that would have tested goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
Most notably, an effort from defender Rebekah Stott in the 51st minute clanged off the crossbar, a shot that if it were just a couple inches lower would have had Barnhart beat.
CROSSBAR WOES! as Stott finishes off a give & go sequence with Naho with a shot that clangs off the crossbar. D'oh. pic.twitter.com/JMwUKZfw45— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) September 25, 2017
As is the case with just about every time Reign FC and FC Kansas City meet up, it’s a tense, low-scoring affair. Reign FC would for the most part have the tempo and possession, but in the area that matters the most, they didn’t get that final touch of quality, that fortunate bounce, and Kansas City’s defense clamped down like a bear trap.
There was a moment of possible hope for magic as defender Elli Reed, who earlier in the week announced her retirement from professional soccer, entered as Seattle’s last substitute and sent in a wonderful cross that sadly did not find a connecting Reign player. Reign FC fans wished for it, but unfortunately there would be no storybook ending to her time at Memorial Stadium.
“It was really special, even as you said, would have been nice to win and keep the season going. My teammates and the staff, everyone made it special. It’s not something I’ll forget any time soon,” defender Elli Reed said reflecting on her final match at Memorial Stadium.
Post-match, Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey said, “I think it summed up our season. We had a lot of the ball. I don’t think Lydia had to make too many saves, but we didn’t get enough quality higher up the field. We gave the ball away in areas that we need to be better at, I think. Overall, we’re disappointed really that we couldn’t find a goal. I think if we had found a goal, we’d have been able to settle down a little bit and play a bit more. Once we were chasing the game, I thought that played into their (FC Kansas City) hand a little bit.”
The loss eliminates the Seattle Reign FC from playoff contention and for the third time this season, the Reign FC lose a match at home. Going into the off-season, there definitely will be plenty of questions to ask about Reign FC, as they have missed the playoffs for the second straight year. However the Reign have a chance to close out the 2017 season with a win on the road.
The Seattle Reign FC conclude their 2017 season against the Washington Spirit, with kickoff scheduled for Saturday, September 30 at 4 PM PST.