[NWSL]There was no denying which was the better team this year. A year after falling to the Portland Thorns, 3-2, in overtime after letting a 2-0 lead slip away, FC Kansas City moved into the NWSL final with a 2-0 win in a semifinal rematch overshadowed -- perhaps not the right word -- by the extreme heat in which the match was played. Temperatures reached 159 degrees on the turf field at UMKC’s Durwood Stadium, and players dunked their feet in buckets of ice to cool off.
Lauren Holiday set up U.S. teammate Amy Rodriguez for the first goal in the 63rd minute and added an insurance goal in the 87th minute on an assist by Sarah Hagen. Until then, the game's best chance fell to Portland's Spanish star, Veronica Boquete, whose shot hit the post late in the first half. The game was even in the first half but the Thorns wilted in the heat in the second half when the hosts outshot them, 9-1.
The game kicked off at 1 p.m. for television -- the match was televised live on ESPN2 -- and temperatures on the field exceeded 100 degrees. (The infrared thermometer of UMKC facilities director James Byland read 159 degrees.) Portland coach Paul Rileycalled the conditions "terrible." "To bring 14 national team players and have to play in conditions like this for a semifinal doesn't make sense," he told the Oregonian, adding that Kansas City was nonetheless the better team and Holiday the best player on the field "by a country mile."
Kansas City, which remains unbeaten at home this season, will play the Seattle-Washington winner for the NWSL championship on Aug. 31. The Seattle-Washington semifinal will be played Sunday night (11 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
Aug. 23 in Kansas City, Mo.
FC Kansas City 2 Portland 0.Goals: Rodriguez (Holiday) 65, Holiday (Hagen) 87.
FC Kansas City -- Barnhart, Kallmann, Phillips, Robinson, Sauerbrunn, Buczkowski, Richmond, Mathias (LePeilbet, 86), Tymrak (Gorry, 90+4), Holiday, Rodriguez (Hagen, 84).
Portland --Anger, Moros (Huffman, 89), Van Hollebeke, Menges, Catley, Long, Brooks, Boquete, Heath (McDonald, 67), Sinclair (Shim, 79), Morgan.