Each day leading up to the start of the season, we’ll take a look at what 2017 has in store for two teams.
Tuesday: Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City
Wednesday: Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC
Thursday: Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage
Friday: Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride
FC Kansas City was humbled last season for the first time in their brief, but proud history. The Blues saw their three-year playoff streak come to an end with a disappointing defense of their back-to-back NWSL titles as they struggled without their most reliable attacking options. Those offensive weapons are back this season, so will normal service be returned for one of the league’s most consistent clubs?
2016 totals (with rank)
Overall record: 7-8-5, 26 pts (tied for 6th place)
Goals for: 18 (9th)
Goals against: 20 (tied for 2nd)
Home record: 2-4-4 (9th)
Away record: 5-4-1 (1st)
Becky Sauerbrunn (Goal, 14 appearances)
Nicole Barnhart (1.00 GAA, 20 appearances)
Yael Averbuch (3 goals, 20 appearances)
FC Kansas City welcomes back the two pillars of the defense for the past four years in centerback Becky Sauerbrunn and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. Last season Sauerbrunn became the only player voted to the NWSL Best XI in all four years of the league’s existence, while Barnhart led the league in shutouts for the fourth consecutive season after she finished the campaign with six clean sheets – tied with Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
Yael Averbuch also returns for coach Vlatko Andonovski who will be hoping for another impressive year from the midfielder and free kick specialist who scored twice direct from free kicks in 2016. Add to that midfielder Erika Tymrak – who spent the offseason on loan winning the W-League Championship in Australia with Melbourne City FC – and the Blues will looking for a repeat performance of the play that saw them trail for just 325 minutes all year last season, the second fewest in the league.
Amy Rodriguez (6 goals, 4 assists – 2015 NWSL season)
Sydney Leroux (Goal, 3 appearances – 2015 NWSL season)
FC Kansas City missed out on the NWSL playoffs for the first time last season after previously securing a postseason berth in each of the first three years of the league’s existence – and the reason why was not hard to see.
Despite a strong sophomore season from forward Shea Groom (8 goals), the Blues had the second-worst offense in the league (18 goals) and led for the fewest number of minutes in the NWSL in 2016.
Much of this was down to Kansas City missing two of their most powerful weapons on attack with both Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux missing the 2016 campaign to give birth. This season the pair of U.S. internationals will be back for the Blues and KC fans will be eager to see them restored to the offense.
Round 1, No. 5 overall: Christina Gibbons (M, Duke)
Round 2, No. 13 overall: Toni Payne (M/F, Duke)
Round 2, No. 17 overall: Stephanie Ribeiro (F/M, UCONN)
Round 4, No. 25 overall: Alexis Shaffer (M/F, Virginia)
Round 4, No. 35 overall: Rashida Beal (D, Minnesota)
FC Kansas City selected Duke and U-23 U.S. international Christina Gibbons with the No. 5 overall selection in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. The defensive-minded midfielder’s game matches very nicely with the Blues overall approach and fans could see her slot in next to veteran holding midfielder Desiree Scott. The club announced the official signing of Gibbons on Tuesday.
The Blues used the No. 13 overall pick to take Gibbons’ college teammate Toni Payne, but she will not play with the NWSL club in 2017 – instead opting to sign with Dutch club Ajax.