FC Kansas City persevered through the second half of the first semifinal of the 2014 NWSL Playoffs, defeating defending champs Portland Thorns 2-0 at Verizon Wireless Field in Kansas City.
It was Deja vu as the Portland Thorns met up with their 2013 playoff opponents in the ultimate rematch, the same meeting that led them to knock the Blues out and go on to win the inaugural NWSL championship title.
Now, it was FC Kansas City’s time for redemption.
Sweltering weather conditions accompanied both sides as it took awhile to coax a faster game pace and momentum out of the players. Few chances were created all around and possession was exchanged evenly, but that caused certain players to get creative and display their unique styles from time to time.
2013 Rookie of the Year Erika Tymrak pulled out some of her signature fancy footwork to baffle Portland defenders, flicking a perfect back heel through a defender’s legs and grabbing possession once more before getting tackled in the 20th minute.
Before the break, Amy Rodriguez left Thorns pursuers in her dust, showcasing her intimidating speed with a huge breakaway. She had an easy shot on goal alone in the box, but the ball flew just over the crossbar.
Someone needed to step up and break the deadlock in the second half, and Rodriguez came back to get the job done. After Alex Morgan threatened the Blues with a close chance that Nicole Barnhart narrowly snatched, FCKC began taking over. In the 63rd minute Lauren Holiday played a beautiful ball through to Rodriguez outside the box and all it took was her blazing speed to shake off the opposition and nail the back of the net.
The Blues kept that 1-0 lead solid, gaining in possession with a championship spot on the horizon. In the 86th minute, they were able to add some cushion to make that final slot a reality.
Sarah Hagen held the ball at the corner of the box and found a nice gap to execute a foolproof play. She quickly threaded her pass to Holiday in the box and the U.S. forward shot high and strong, whizzing past German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer for the win.
With vengeance served, FC Kansas City will play the winner of tomorrow’s final semi match in the Championship next Sunday. Tomorrow’s semi pits No. 1 Seattle Reign FC against No. 3 Washington Spirit at Moda Pitch Memorial Stadium.