Sunday marks the big day for the 2014 NWSL season. Not only is it a wrap for the league’s second year but also one team will walk away with the Championship title. That will be left up to No. 1 Seattle Reign FC and No. 2 FC Kansas City, who will clash at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, WA.
Looking back at 2013, Seattle Reign FC has come a long way; seemingly flipping the table from where they were for last year’s playoffs- they didn’t even make it.
“For the ones that were here last year and struggled so much, knowing that we have a good foundation and that the vision of Bill, Theresa and Laura was really bright was something we got into, “ said U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe. “Coming into this year we knew we had something special. People have been waiting for the hat to drop, and with the quality of this team- it doesn’t let that happen.”
In 2014, head coach Laura Harvey led the team to more than just the Championship. The west coast club established a new NWSL single season marks for points with 54, including 16 wins, a +30 goal difference and 50 goals scored overall. Seattle also set a new NWSL record for most consecutive wins (7) from April 13-May 14, going 16 straight matches without a single loss.
It seems like Seattle Reign has got all the boundaries covered, especially with a dream team of attackers made up of 2014 NWSL MVP and Golden Boot recipient Kim Little, U.S. forward Sydney Leroux, U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe and Japanese international Nahomi Kawasumi.
They were an overwhelming bunch against Washington Spirit in the semifinals last weekend, but though they created multiple chances, it was hard for Seattle to break through and score and it didn’t help that the few times Spirit created chances, they were deadly. Hope Solo was forced to make some difficult saves, although Spirit forward Veronica Perez was able to find a gap and get Spirit on the board first.
Enter the stone cold defense of FC Kansas City.
Little may have led the league in scoring, but FCKC defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who was just named 2014 NWSL defender of the year for the second year in a row, is sure to make their thwart their efforts, along with Leigh Ann Robinson and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, who has consistently proven just how gritty she can get, no matter how hard the pressure.
2013 NWSL MVP Lauren Holiday, 2013 NWSL Rookie of the Year Erika Tymrak and Amy Rodriguez are a solid attacking force as well. Remember that NWSL record Seattle set for most consecutive wins? Well, the Blues tied that record later on in the season.
All in all, this match will be as competitive as it gets with both sides attributing interchangeable skills that make this Championship really anyone’s game. Quality players, impressive regular season results and the desire for the 2014 NWSL crown provides the perfect hash up for an unforgettable finish to the season.
“To make it to the final is definitely very rewarding, but we still feel like we have some unfinished business from last year,” Robinson said in a press conference. “We’re hungry, ready and excited to get this far and I think we match up well with Seattle in terms of both teams liking to play through the midfield. It’s going to be a good match up and we’re super excited.”