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Sky Blue entertains but falls short in final match, 3-2, to FC Kansas City

Amy Rodriguez scores two for Kansas City in Lauren Holiday's last regular season match. Heather O'Reilly has a great time in her home state.

Sky Blue Photo/Robyn McNeil

The fans got what they came to see - somewhat.

Lauren Holliday said goodbye in her last regular season National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) match. New Jersey's own Heather O'Reilly showed her stuff with an assist on one goal and started off the play that set up another. And the outcome of the match was in doubt right down to the last minute.

All that was missing was a Sky Blue victory. FC Kansas City closed out their regular season with 3-2 victory at Rutgers University's Yurcak Field. Amy Rodriguez scored twice for the visitors and Sam Kerr had the brace for Sky Blue FC.

The win still gives FC Kansas City (9-6-5, 25 points) a chance for a higher playoff seed. KC needs Washington to lose or tie versus Seattle over the weekend to move up to third and avoid the Reign in the semifinals.

Sky Blue FC, which defeated KC, 1-0, in the opening match of the season, finished 5-8-7 for 22 points.

For O'Reilly, it was a homecoming of sorts. She played her high school soccer in nearby East Brunswick. She, too, got a nice hand during pre-game introductions and played the full 90 minutes. Her performance was vintage O'Reilly. She was running at players on the flank while also tucking in to create scoring opportunities.

"I love being back in New Jersey and this weekend I came a few days early to do my clinics in this area," O'Reilly said. "This is home, this is New Jersey. These are my root. I saw so many former coaches, teammates and, of course, family. I was really luck to grow up in a great community. I wish I could have gotten a goal but an assist to A-Rod will have to do. And we got the win, which was very important."

Sarah Hagen got FC Kansas City on the board early with one of the easiest goals she'll ever score. O'Reilly won the ball at midfield and gave it  Rodriguez, who took two touches that drew the Sky Blue defense over. She sent a low, hard ground ball across the six-yard box to a wide-open Hagen who one-touched the ball into the empty net in the fifth minute.

Sky Blue FC equalized in the 39th minute. Kelly O'Hara skied a pass from midfield over the Kansas City midfield to Kerr on the left flank. The Australian striker took two touches around Amy LePelibet before hitting a left-footer off the far post and past Nicole Barnhart. She celebrated with a double backflip.

The lead was short-lived, however. Three minutes later, O'Reilly took a ball down the right side and served a perfect ball to Rodriguez. Her header was dead-on in to the empty net, giving FC Kansas City the lead they would never relinquish.

In the second half, Rodriguez scored her second goal of the game, taking a slicing pass inside from Becca Moros and fending off defender Lindi Cutshall before sending a shot inside from 12 yards in the 52nd minute.

Kerr scored her second of the game in the 73rd minute, heading in a serve from midfielder Sarah Killion. O'Hara started the play with a corner kick that was headed out but Killion won the ball on the right wing.

Sky Blue pressed and had a couple of opportunities late. Katy Freels hit a 30-yard free kick over the bar in the 80th minute. O'Hara served on in during injury time that went past Cutshall on the near post and bounced over Maya Hayes on the far post.

In a classy move, Holiday's night started off with Rampone giving her flowers before the team introductions. Holiday also received loud ovations from the cozy but loud crowd when she was introduced and was subbed out in the 61st minute.