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Reign falls in Portland, loses 1-0

The strongest attack in Women's soccer couldn't find a goal in a defensive battle that went right to the wire.

Mike Russell Foto

For the second year in a row, the Seattle Reign came up a goal short of an NWSL championship. On neutral turf, FC Kansas City scored too late for the Reign to manage an answer, and repeated as league champions on a 1-0 scoreline. A single play undid the Reign in the 78th minute, once again at the hands of Amy Rodriguez. Elli Reed kicked a dagger through the Reign defense that found Heather O'Reilly on the left wing, whose cross into the box touched the head of Rodriguez and the back of the net.

Kansas City committed to keeping numbers behind the ball on defense all match long, and it kept the league-leading Reign attack scoreless for the entire match. A team that passed so prolifically throughout the season struggled to link up in the Kansas City third, and wasted the few opportunities they found.

At the hour mark, Megan Rapinoe came inches from the best goal in league history when she launched a 25-yard rocket that smashed and nearly broke the far post. The team had other clear chances in the 20th and 87th minutes, but both went right to Kansas City keeper Nichole Barnhart.

The scoreline could have been even worse, after a sloppy foul in the box on Kansas City's Erika Tymrak in the 70th had the ACES crowd of Providence Park calling for a penalty, but the referee waved it off and play continued. The Reign also had cause for complaint with the official, as star destroyer Jessica Fishlock took a late challenge and a few cleats to the back of the leg, and appeared to need a halftime sub. Neither action was judged worthy of a card, but Fishlock stayed on the pitch and continued to play at a high level.

Disappointment will be high for the Reign club, after two consecutive years leading the league in points and generally dominating the NWSL while seeing big growth at the gates and in merchandise sales. They'll go into next year the reigning champions in goals scored and goals allowed, potentially struggling to find ways to improve a uniquely talented team.

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