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Reign beat Kansas City, jump into 1st

Seattle Reign FC remained undefeated at Memorial Stadium with a 2-1 victory over FC Kansas City on Saturday night. Bev Yanez and Kim Little scored second half goals in short order and Shea Groom scored in stoppage time for the visitors. Only a spectacular opening half by Nicole Barnhart prevented the Reign from running off with the match earlier. The win jumped the Reign to the top of the NWSL table on the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Washington Spirit who won earlier Saturday. The Reign also own a match in hand on the Spirit.

The Reign controlled the match almost from the get-go. Barnhart was under siege throughout the first half and was up to the task at every turn. On one occasion she meandered out too far and left her goal exposed but some heady defending in the box by the Blues helped keep the match scoreless.

The breakthrough came just after an hour. The Reign played a free kick short and knocked it around a few times before Kendall Fletcher drove it into the box where Yanez was waiting for it. Yanez got the better of her mark and finally beat Barnhart, from close range, to give the Reign the lead.

FC Kansas City barely had time to make an adjustment to try and get farther forward when a bad defensive giveaway on the left side got their defense stretched out and the lead doubled. The Reign, as they do so well, swarmed on the turnover like bees on honey and it ended up with substitute Danielle Foxhoven finding Little wide open in front of Barnhart. The finish was as simple as finding a spot to place the ball. It was Little’s third goal of the season, two off Yanez who leads the squad with five.

The Blues rarely threatened thereafter, and coach Vlatko Andonovski even pulled off Jen Buczkowski marking only the second time in her NWSL career she has been taken off. In the 91st minute Groom used some fancy footwork to create a seem between Reign defenders and unloaded a perfectly placed shot that left Reign keeper Haley Kopmeyer with nothing to do but watch.

The Reign (5-2-2, 17 pts), now unbeaten in six, are next at Western New York on Friday night. If the Red Stars do not beat Sky Blue on Sunday the Reign will finish Week 11 in first place. FC Kansas City (3-5-2, 11 pts) have not won in their last five and are home to face the Spirit, also on Friday.


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