History repeated Thursday in a way the Seattle Reign had hoped to avoid.
For the second time in as many years, the Reign assembled the best record in the National Women’s Soccer League regular season, but couldn’t complete the double with a win in the championship game.
Instead, FC Kansas City defended its NWSL title with a 1-0 win before a crowd of 13,264 at Providence Park in Portland.
The lone goal came in the 78th minute, a header from close range from FCKC’s Amy Rodriguez, their regular-season goals leader with six.
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Both teams had solid chances in the first half. In the 20th minute, MEGAN Rapinoe found Reign goals-leader Kim Little in space on the wing, but Little’s shot was cleanly handled by Blues goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. Seven minutes later, Kansas City’s Amy LePeilbet got to a ball in front of the Seattle goal, but sent her header just wide.
In the second half, the best chances shifted to Seattle. In the 52nd minute, Beverly Yanez sent a solid header at Barnhart. In the 63rd, Rapinoe sent a ball banging off the far post from 25 yards.
But in the 78th minute, it was Kansas City that broke through, with Rodriguez providing the final touch on a counter that started around the middle of the pitch.
The Reign had one more great chance, with Rapinoe finding the ball at her foot at the penalty spot, but he low, hard strike went right at Barnhart.
The made it back-to-back titles for Kansas City, which defeated the Reign 2-1 last season in Tukwila.