By CAITLIN MURRAY
FC Kansas City has exacted their revenge on the Portland Thorns FC.
In an identical rematch to last year’s semifinal, the Kansas City Blues dismantled the defending National Women’s Soccer League champions Saturday, 2-0, and will advance to next week’s final.
It was Amy Rodriguez, Kansas City’s goal-scoring machine during the regular season, that gave the Blues the lead to secure the win.
On a counter attack in the 64th minute, Erika Tymrak slipped a pass to a running Lauren Holiday as Rodriguez ran ahead of them along the flank. Rodriguez cut through the Thorns back line with a diagonal run toward the box, switching the direction of play as Holiday slipped her a through ball.
The Thorns’ Nadine Angerer came out, but a composed Rodriguez took an extra touch around the goalkeeper and tapped it into the open net.
The goal instantly changed the dynamic of the match, which had been frantic and sloppy for both sides for much of the day. With the lead in hand, the Blues showed confidence and controlled the pace of well to finish out the match.
The insurance goal came in 87th minute as sub Sarah Hagen slipped a pass into the box for an onside Holiday. She one-timed it near post past Angerer for the final result.
The Thorns struggled all day to get an attack going, a credit to the Blues defense that held shape well and gave the Thorns little room to operate. Alex Morgan had a couple chances, but none clean enough to finish.
Spain’s Vero Boquete was the lone bright spot for Portland as she showed flashes of brilliance, dribbling through tight spaces and creating chances for herself. She nearly scored in stoppage time of the first half, turning around a defender to find the space for a wide angle shot that bounced off the post.
These two sides had met under the same conditions last year, but in that semifinal, the Thorns rallied from a two goal deficit to equalize during regulation and score the game-winner in extra time. The Thorns later won the championship.
With Saturday’s win, FC Kansas City maintains their unbeaten run at home this season. With the Thorns loss, the NWSL will have a new league champion next week.
FC Kansas City’s final opponent will be decided Sunday night as the Seattle Reign FC host the Washington Spirit on ESPN2.