FC Kansas City is a team that has already taken many by surprise. When the team was announced as one of the eight franchises in the new league, people were surprised that Kansas City received a team and even more surprised that it was the Missouri Comets indoor team ownership that stepped up and not the larger Sporting Kansas City.
The Blues were expected to mostly get second tier talent because the expectation was that nobody wanted to come here to play. It was not one of the former WPS teams. It’s flyover country; an unproven coach that was splitting time reviewing video of top women players and helping coach the Comets to the MISL finals, why would anyone put Kansas City on their list at all?
While FC Kansas City did not get the bigger names in the allocation, they did receive a very solid core with Lauren Cheney, Becky Sauerbrunn and Nicole Barnhart from the U.S. and Lauren Sesselmann and Desiree Scott from Canada. Add Mexican national team forward Renae Cuèllar to that group and suddenly pundits across the country noticed that FC Kansas City had strength from front to back and was possibly the most balanced group.
The Blues continued to follow their plans to build the team. When Kristie Mewis fell to their pick (No. 3) in the college draft there was no doubt that they were going to take her with their first pick. Erika Tymrak was taken in the second round and suddenly the Blues had two of their top four rated players in the draft.
FC Kansas City did not care if people overlooked them, in fact they seemed to relish that underdog role. Another example is the supplemental draft, good solid players taken through the first three rounds and then they selected Casey Loyd (nee Nogueira) and Tina DiMartino. Two players that all the experts said were not going to play in this league. So far they have been correct about DiMartino but again FC Kansas City surprised the league when they announced that Loyd had indeed signed with the Blues. She has some flexibility in her schedule to allow her to be with her husband but they were able acquire the services of one of the most talented women when nobody thought they could.
Do they still have some surprises up their sleeves? Quite possibly. When the rosters were finalized FC Kansas City only listed eighteen names, they still have an interest in at least one international player.
Star watch: Lauren Cheney probably fits this label the best. Extremely talented, she has been working her way into an ever increasing role with the national team and will be counted on to potentially play multiple positions with the Blues.
Potential breakout player: Renae Cuèllar is eager to prove to the world that she is a first-class striker and just might do it. With a combination of speed, strength and skill, she lit up the scoreboard in preseason and she and the team hopes she can continue that pace in the league. Mewis and Tymrak are too talented to not include as possible breakout players as well.
Coach factor: The Blues coaching staff is inexperienced at the women’s professional level but head coach Vlatko Andonovski and assistant Huw Williams have had success at the ECNL and youth levels. Both of them preach an attacking style that will utilize all those talented players they have acquired.
Off the field: FC Kansas City may be the team that has surprised onlookers with players and uniform announcements but they also have the solid ground crew to get consistent ticket sales. If they can play well, they can capture the attention of a soccer mad city and then they should have no problem packing in the fans.
No. Player Pos. Ht. Birthdate Hometown College
18 Nicole Barnhart GK 5-10 10/10/1981 Gilbertsville, PA Stanford
6 Jen Buczkowski MID 5-6 4/4/1985 Chicago, IL Notre Dam
12 Lauren Cheney FWD 5-9 9/30/1987 Indianapolis, IN UCLA
10 Renae Cuèllar FWD 5-6 6/24/1990 Bellflower, CA Oklahoma
17 Sinead Farrelly MID 5-5 11/16/1989 Havertown, CA University of Virginia
2 Melissa Henderson FWD 5-8 8/23/1989 Garland, TX Notre Dame
1 Bianca Henninger GK 5-6 10/221990 Los Gatos, CA Santa Clara University
8 Courtney Jones FWD 5-8 5/21/1990 Danville, CA Univ. of North Carolina
20 Katie Kelly DEF 5-9 6/2/1987 Kansas City, MO Marquette
7 Casey Loyd MID 5-6 2/23/1989 San Diego, CA Univ. of North Carolina
9 Merritt Mathias DEF 5-6 7/2/1990 Birmingham, AL Texas A&M
19 Kristie Mewis MID 5-8 2/25/1991 Weymouth, MA Boston
13 Leigh Ann Robinson DEF 5-9 8/17/1986 San Diego, CA Univ. of San Diego
4 Becky Sauerbrunn DEF 5-7 6/6/1985 Denver, CO Univ. of Virginia
11 Desiree Scott MID 5-3 7/31/1987 Winninpeg, Manitoba Univ. of Manitoba
14 Lauren Sesselmann DEF 5-8 8/14/1983 Marshfield, WI Purdue
15 Erika Tymrak MID 5-5 8/7/1991 Bradenton, FL Univ. of Florida
16 Nia Williams DEF 5-4 9/19/1990 Roeland Park, KS Missouri State
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Assistant Coach: Huw Williams
Assistant Coach: Goran Karadzov
Goalkeeper Coach: Kelly Miller
Head Athletic Trainer: Fran Heisinger
Equipment Manager: Shawn duMers
Team Administrator: Charleen Keller