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Gamethread: Seattle Reign v. FC Kansas City

A win keeps Reign FC’s playoff hopes alive.

Reign vs. Sky Blue Photo credit - MikeRussellFoto

Seattle Reign FC hosts its final 2017 home match on Sunday, and the squad will face a team that has caused them all sorts of trouble in previous years. The Reign kick off against FC Kansas City at 6 p.m. PT at Memorial Stadium.

The match remains a critical one for Reign FC, who still have a shot at squeezing into a playoff spot, as Orlando City drew with Portland this weekend. This result keeps the Pride six points ahead of Seattle. If the Reign win Sunday, they’ll close that gap to three points with one match remaining for both teams.

If Reign FC walks away with three points on Sunday, and Orlando loses next week and Seattle wins, the teams would be even on points and the first tiebreaker: head-to-head. To move ahead of Orlando, Seattle would then need to have a better goal differential. This is where the Reign have some ground to cover, as Seattle currently has a goal differential of six, while the Pride are at 13.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first task is to win this weekend against Kansas City. So let’s focus on that.

The Reign are 5-2-4 against teams outside of playoff contention this season — including a pair of draws against Kansas City during a home-and-home series between the clubs in June. The team showed some incredible fight in that second match, as they went down to 10 players in the 3rd minute after a Lauren Barnes red card — coming from a goal behind to level the game.

“There’s always great games between us and Kansas,” Laura Harvey said in advance of those June matches. “They’re an opposition that I have the utmost respect for. We suit each other in the way that we try and play.”

Seattle and KC play a similar style of soccer — focused on possession, off-the-ball movement, and building play from the back. Matches between the two teams are typically very close. In addition to the two draws earlier this year, the clubs met two times last year — playing to a 0-0 draw in Kansas City and a 1-0 Seattle win at Memorial Stadium thanks to some Kim Little brilliance.

While KC has gotten the best of Seattle in two NWSL Championship matches, the Reign have finished ahead of the Blues these last two seasons. Kansas City has struggled to fill the gaps left by Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriquez, and Jen Buczkowski. But the team is slowly finding its form — putting together 13 points in their last six games.

Shea Groom is the most dangerous threat on the wings for Kansas City. She’s aggressive, quick, and can put in a great cross. Groom netted a brace two weeks ago against Sky Blue FC, and just like in previous seasons, she’s finding her goal-scoring form late this year. Her six assists are where she’s really shined this season — contributing to goals in addition to scoring them.

Lauren Barnes is suspended this match due to yellow card accumulation, and Rebekah Stott went 90 minutes in two games against the United States during the international break. The Reign backline is going to be put to the test to stop Groom and Sydney Leroux.

FCKC has also been stronger in the midfield since Christina Gibbons shifted there mid-season, after starting the year at left back. But Seattle has the personnel to cut off her passes and dominate the midfield. If we get vintage Jess Fishlock partnering well with Rumi Utsugi, Gibbons should struggle.

Seattle’s wing play will be critical as well. Megan Rapinoe comes into the match tied for second in the league in goals scored, and she scored in Reign FC’s first meeting with Kansas City this year. Naho Kawasumi has scored in both 2017 matches against the Blues, and she is just one assist away from tying the NWSL season assist record.

It usually takes just one moment of brilliance to seal a win between these two clubs. Let’s hope Reign FC can produce that brilliance this time around.

Current Form

FCKC: 7-9-6 with 27 goals scored and 30 conceded.

Top Scorer: Sydney Leroux (6) | Top Assist Leader: Shea Groom (6)

Seattle: 8-7-7 with 40 goals scored and 34 conceded.

Top Scorer: Megan Rapinoe (12) | Top Assist Leader: Naho Kawasumi (9)

How to Watch

Date/Time: Sunday, September 24, 6:00 PM PT
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Seattle, WA
Streaming: go90 app (iOS/Android); go90.com; NWSL app (iOS/Android); NWSLSoccer.com

This is your Reign FC gamethread. Watch and discuss with us.

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