The Seattle Reign FC concluded their three match road trip with a 2-2 draw tonight against FC Kansas City at Swope Soccer Village. Goals from Alexa Newfield and Maegan Kelly for Kansas City, and Megan Rapinoe and Nahomi Kawasumi for Seattle, made for a thrilling night that easily could have had more than just four goals.
Both goalkeepers, Nicole Barnhart and Haley Kopmeyer, were tested often, as well as the back lines they commanded, as both sides looked to exploit the muggy weather and test the speed and stamina of everyone on the field. The match was originally scheduled for an afternoon kickoff, but after the Rachel Daly incident a couple weeks ago playing out in front of a national TV audience, the league did the right thing and moved a significant number of kickoff times to avoid midday heat at its most extreme. Still, there was a threat of severe thunderstorms possibly affecting the match, but fortunately the only stoppages were the scheduled hydration breaks, as the storms held off until post-game.
Whenever Seattle and Kansas City face off it's a chess match between head coaches Laura Harvey and Vlatko Andonovski, arguably two of the NWSL's elite coaches in its young existence. Tonight proved to be no different, as both sides used the opening minutes trying to feel each other out and trying to find a solution.
Kansas City struck first when Alexa Newfield got her head on a cross set up by Erika Tymrak. Haley Kopmeyer got a fingertip on the ball, but it managed to get past her out-stretched arm.
Kopmeyer got a hand on it, but Alexa Newfield put enough on it and KC is up 1-0 over Seattle. pic.twitter.com/Uce7POrcZI— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) June 18, 2017
Less than ten minutes after the goal, Seattle would draw even after Megan Rapinoe sent in a powerful strike from outside the box. Nicole Barnhart got on top of it, but it managed to squirt under her to find the back of the net. Surely it'll be a Goal of the Week nominee.
RPG: Rapinoe-Powered Golazo. pic.twitter.com/nt0j90pnt9— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) June 18, 2017
Most of the second half reverted back to a chess match, with each side testing the opposing defense but not finding the breakthrough. This included an incredible sequence in the 74th minute, led by Katie Johnson, in which Seattle had three good chances in a row on Kansas City's goal, but was thwarted by three different Kansas City defenders. The play was incredibly frustrating for the Reign FC and their fans, but you just have to tip your hat to Kansas City for showing such resolve while under siege. However, Seattle's persistence would pay off minutes later as a Katie Johnson to Christine Nairn to Nahomi Kawasumi sequence saw the Japanese forward in near point-blank position in front of Kansas City's goal to bury home Seattle's second goal.
It appeared that Seattle would be in the driver's seat to finally claim their first victory in Kansas City, however in the 84th minute, a blistering cross from Yael Averbuch found Maegan Kelly at the far post, and she made no mistake snapping a header home to return the favor and close the match to a 2-2 draw.
:( Just like that, Maegan Kelly equalizes for Kansas City. pic.twitter.com/bmExFyd3zg— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) June 18, 2017
Thus ends Seattle's three match road trip, having claimed four points from it. Obviously they would have preferred to win all three of those matches, but getting points on the road is always encouraging, particularly having dealt with stifling heat in all three games.
Seattle returns to the comfy confines of Memorial Stadium next weekend, hosting FC Kansas City in a rematch. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 PM PDT and the match will be part of Seattle's celebration of Pride Month.