Philly Sports Live

A Case of Kansas City Blues

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When the eight teams that will be participating in the inaugural season of the NWSL were announced, there were some new faces joining the women’s soccer revolution in the United States. One of those new faces is FC Kansas City, who are based out of Prairie Village, Kansas. Founded in 2012 by the ownership group of Brian Budzinski, Chris Likens, Brad Likens, Greg Likens, FC Kansas City is looking to bring professional women’s soccer to the Midwest.

Not a lot is known about the team, so let’s start with what we do know. The Blues, as they are called, will have Vlatko Andonovski at the helm. Andonovski, who is a native of Macedonia, has experience playing in Europe for clubs Rbotnicki FC, Vardar, and Makedonija GP in his home country. He is also known for his indoor soccer skills in the US having played for for Wichita Wings in the NPSL and Kansas City Comets, California Cougars, and the Philadelphia Kixx in the MISL. He is currently the assistant coach of the Missouri Comets. Vlatko not only has experience with indoor soccer.   He has also coached Missouri youth teams to four Missouri State Championships and a Youth National Championship. Andonovski will be joined by assistant head coach Huw Williams. Williams is a Welsh national that has experience in England playing for Blackburn Rovers’ youth side for five years and experience with the Welsh Youth National Team. Huw Williams is also a very experienced coach at the youth level, guiding Kansas Youth Soccer Association teams to 32 State Championships in the 1980’s. 1990’s 2000’s and 2010’s.

During the National Team Player distribution of US, Canadian and Mexican players, the Blues were allocated top midfielders and defenders from each country. FC Kansas City received goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, defender Becky Sauerbrunn and midfielder Lauren Cheney from the US. Canadian midfielder Desiree Scott and defender Lauren Sesselman also went to the Blues, while Mexican forward Rene Cuellar and defender Marylin Diaz round out the national team players. In the college draft, the Blues drafted Boston College and US Women’s National Team U-20 midfielder Kristie Mewis in the first round. Florida Gators midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak was selected by KC in the second round, with local products Whitney Berry, midfielder/forward, from Kansas and Nia Williams, defender, from Missouri State in the third and fourth rounds.

The Blues have a solid goalkeeper in Nicole Barnhart who has 46 caps for the USWNT as the backup to Hope Solo. Barnhart also has 21 shutouts to her name since her National Team career began in 2004. US Defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who joined the US Women’s senior squad in 2008, has 37 caps for her country and is thought to be a young promising defender for the US. Her ability to read the game and know exactly where to be is what makes her a special player on defense.  She is joined on the back-line by Canada’s Lauren Sesselman and Mexico’s Marylin Diaz. Look for the Blues defense to be key to some of their success this up coming season.

The FC Kansas City midfield will be looking to link the play between the defense and forwards, and that responsibility presumably will fall to US midfielder Lauren Cheney. Cheney, who has 82 caps and 18 goals for the US since joining the National Team in 2007, will look to forge a partnership with Canadian midfielder Desiree Scott and run the Blues midfield. Joining Cheney and Scott in the midfield is US Women’s U-20 and Boston College midfielder Kristie Mewis. Mewis has 26 caps and six goals for the US U-20 team and will be looking to get on new National Team head coach Tom Sermanni’s radar with the next Women’s World Cup still two and a half years away. The Gator’s Erika Tymrak and Kansas forward Whitney Berry could feature in the attack for the Blues along side Rene Cuellar from Mexico.

There are still a lot of questions regarding the Blues attack, but where they do seem to be strong is in the midfield and defense. If FC Kansas City is able to bolster their attack with some free agent signings or see what putting Cheney up front could do, then they are a team that could challenge for a playoff spot this season. Their defense is going to be what anchors the team, but how they deal with Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux and Christine Sinclair is yet to be seen. The Blues are going to be a side to watch out for especially because they are not really on anyone’s radar as being an attacking threat. If they use that to their advantage, Kansas City is going to surprise a lot of people.