One year ago, Reign FC spent an entire season playing the bulk of its competition off the pitch. After an inaugural year didn’t go so well for a new team full of new players, the 2014 reboot seemingly drifted through a banner season as the team went 16–2–6, suffering just two losses all year.
Prior to the start of the 2014 Championship Final, the Shield winners almost had it all. But on a sunny day in Tukwila Washington, Reign FC couldn’t find the comeback needed against a strong FC Kansas City for the NWSL title.
Come October 1, the matchup and the goal will be the same. Reign FC will meet FC Kansas City once more in the NWSL Championship match, this time at Providence Park in Portland, Ore.
The regular season champions will go toe-to-toe against the defending champions and Seattle’s season had a different narrative but no less memorable than that 2014 effort. While last year’s result is well remembered, next Thursday’s match isn’t necessarily a revenge game.
“Our two teams have shown throughout the year, especially the back half of the year, we’re the best two teams,” said Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe. “I thought the same last year. But in terms of a rivalry match, it’s fun that it worked out that way and it will be an intense match.”
More was asked of this club, tasked with the challenge of improving on an impressive season, as important pieces like Hope Solo and Rapinoe left to go win a World Cup, and others stepped in to fill their shoes. The heart and resilience of Reign FC can’t be challenged.
“There’s a different mindset in the girls this year that wasn’t there last year,” said head coach Laura Harvey. “They’re focused, driven, wanting to be better and wanting to make sure we have everything nailed down. If we can take that mindset to Portland, it will be really difficult to beat us.
Last year, a team that had relied on sound defensive play (20 goals allowed in 24 matches) saw two defensive miscues lead to both NWSL Final goals. Solid play in the back will be important again against a dangerous FC Kansas City, but the backline in 2015 has been strengthened with the addition of Scottish international Rachel Corsie.
Up front, Reign FC will have the likes of Kim Little, but bottling up the Great Scot won’t be nearly enough as Beverly Yanez has been a terror all season. Just a few yards behind them sit the ever-lurking Jess Fishlock, ready to make the final run and leap toward goal. And of course, Rapinoe, who is always ready to creatively create chances in a moment’s notice.
While the Reign FC unfortunately won’t get a chance to test its unbeaten streak at Memorial Stadium with this year’s neutral grounds, the next preferred location was that in the Rose City. Reign FC met with FC Kansas City twice this season, falling 1–0 on the road before defeating the defending champs in Seattle. Reign FC has the talent, pedigree and fighting mentality to turn the tables on the Blues.
“I never want that feeling again. Ever in my life,” Harvey said. “I’m not saying we will go and beat Kansas because they’re a good team, but we will leave absolutely everything we have on that field in Portland to go and get what we really want.”
Seattle Reign FC and FC Kansas City square off in a Championship rematch on Thursday, Oct. 1 at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. in a nationally broadcasted match at 6:30 p.m. PT live on FOX Sports 1.