2015 – Around the World and Close to Home
Islamic State militants killed 130 in coordinated attacks on Paris restaurants, bars and a concert hall, more than 1 million migrants and refugees flooded into Europe from Africa and the Middle East, overwhelming borders and reception facilities, and representatives from nearly 200 nations signed the Paris Climate Agreement to curb greenhouse gases. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states, the Black Lives Matter movement gathered strength as riots and unrest came in response to deaths of Black men by hands of police in Baltimore and Chicago, and across the South came renewed demands to remove Confederate flags and symbols after nine Blacks were gunned down in a Charleston, South Carolina, church. Washington’s worst wildfire season claimed three firefighters’ lives, hundreds of homes and over one million acres of timber, Seattle began raising the workers’ minimum hourly wage by 18 percent, to $9.47, with a target of $15 by 2021, and the Seahawks’ bid to win a second straight Super Bowl ended with a turnover at 1-yard line.
All But the Final Touch
It is the American Way. Our most lofty championships are decided on a single day, sometimes by virtue of a single play. Whatever was accomplished up until that time is somehow rendered secondary or immaterial.
For the Seattle Reign, that was the harsh reality awaiting when full-time was whistled on the 2015 NWSL championship game in Portland. Again. For the Reign had experienced that same emptiness a year before. All this coming after dominating the league, week in, week out.
Seattle still possessed a pair of NWSL Shields, presented for finishing first over the regular season in 2014 and ’15 yet they watched as the spotlight shifted to FC Kansas City for the second year in a row. The Reign won eight more games than FCKC over the biennium, lost only one regular season match in five meetings but had nothing shiny to show for it.
Being an Englishwoman, coach Laura Harvey was most satisfied after her team took the Shield in 2014. But in the dying seconds of the championship match at Starfire, before a sellout crowd, the disappointment of her players and fans was palpable. “I will take full responsibility for the fact that winning the league was enough for me – until we lost the final. I never want that feeling again,” Harvey lamented.
With the 2015 final approaching, Harvey knew her squad was focused on the task at hand. They were driven, they were not satisfied with a Shield. The year before they fell, 2-1, despite outplaying Kansas City. This time around, in Portland but backed with strong traveling support, it was very even – until it wasn’t.
With 12 minutes to go, Amy Rodriguez – who had scored both KC goals at Starfire – headed home a Heather O’Reilly cross, and Seattle was unable to reply. The Reign, who led the league by a wide margin in goals (2.05), simply couldn’t generate clean chances. Megan Rapinoe wondered aloud whether her team wanted to be “too perfect,” not direct enough.
“I think the way the league is set up, it’s sometimes hard to get your head around the structure because we play each other all year, and then we have to define ourselves by one game...We have to learn to be better in one game.”