Kim Little scored, leading the Reign to a 1-0 victory over visiting FC Kansas City in a National Women’s Soccer League match.

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Seattle coach Laura Harvey used an unconventional description for Reign FC attacker Kim Little on Sunday evening: “She’s a joke.”

Her tone of disbelief, and an approving snort afterward, said it all after a complete performance that culminated in the game’s only goal as Little led the Reign to a 1-0 victory over FC Kansas City on Sunday at Memorial Stadium.

The rematch of the last two National Women’s Soccer League championship games – both won by Kansas City – was as much about high-profile absences as it was the players who participated.


Reign @ Orlando, 2 p.m.

Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo arrived from Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in time for kickoff, but fellow U.S. national teamer Megan Rapinoe is still out with a torn knee ligament. FCKC forward Amy Rodriguez, whom the Reign traded away and who scored on it in each of those two title games, is pregnant with her second child and former USWNT star Lauren Holiday retired in the offseason.

Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock is out from 4 to 6 weeks with a left-tibia fracture suffered last month in Boston, shifting Little back deeper into the midfield to provide cover.

“I think (Little) takes the responsibility of that and says we have to grind out results until they’re back,” Harvey said. “If she’s going to play like that, then she can grind out results whatever way she wants, because she was everywhere.

“There were times where they had a few little breaks, and the player getting back is Kim Little. A few crosses into the box, a player controlling it on their chest and doing a (Johan) Cruyff turn in the 18-yard box: Kim Little. And at the other end, she just needs that one opportunity.”

The position was an uncommon one for Little while playing with the Reign, but she has often filled that role while with the Scottish national team. And in trying in vain to qualify her home nation for its first Women’s World Cup, the 25-year-old also knows how to play a leading part.

“I have experience (in midfield), so it was quite natural for me,” Little said. “For me, it allows me to do something different. It means I learn different things and maybe go back to doing some things maybe I hadn’t been.”

Seattle (2-1-0) looked like a different team than the one that so limply dropped its home opener to Sky Blue two weeks earlier. The Reign moved the ball around more quickly, picking out the patterns in Kansas City’s formation.

Yet it hadn’t crafted many clear-cut scoring chances until the 56th minute, when Little found just enough space in the opposing box to rifle a shot inside the left post.

“It’s a relief,” Seattle rookie Carson Pickett said. “That’s probably the best word that I can say. When you give her the ball, you know she’s going to help you out.”

Pickett describes her experience of meeting the 2014 NWSL MVP and Golden Boot winner as something like hero worship, and Harvey struck a similar tone on Sunday.

“Kim just does things under pressure – and now, she’s doing them so deep because of the position that she’s playing – where you just stand there in awe, really,” Harvey said.