2016 NWSL Season Preview: FC Kansas City Look to Continue Success

2016 NWSL Season Preview: FC Kansas City Look to Continue Success

After their back-to-back championship wins, FC Kansas City will look to continue on last season's success and add to their hardware collection in the 2016 season.

izzy-greenblatt
Izzy Greenblatt

2015 Season in Review:

Record: 9-5-6

Goals Scored: 32

Goals Allowed: 20

Leading Scorers: Amy Rodriguez (nine goals), Shea Groom (five goals), Sarah Hagen (four goals)

After becoming the first NWSL team to win back-to-back championships, FC Kansas City will look to build on that this upcoming season.

The 2015 season was fairly average for the reigning champions, despite their eventual title run.  The team made it to third place in the standings behind Seattle Reign FC and the Chicago Red Stars.  The team had a solid line-up with Lauren Holiday commanding the midfield and Becky Sauerbrunn in the back line.  The team had some quality goal scorers up top in Amy Rodriguez and Shea Groom.  The team worked well with players having national team experience as well as newcomers.

The season may not have had as many wins as the team might have hoped, but the strong 4-2-0 finish of the season helped FCKC with their playoff chances.  FCKC dominated their semifinal draw over Chicago with a 3-0 win and a brace by Rodriguez.  They then went on to win their second championship over Seattle with a 1-0 win on another Rodriguez goal, who eventually became MVP of the match.

Key Departures:

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jeff Vinnick
Lauren Holiday during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup / Jeff Vinnick - Getty Images

The biggest loss to this FCKC team has got to be Holiday. The center midfielder commanded and controlled the game for the last three years for this team and has been consistent in her role.  They also lost two star forwards in Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux to pregnancy. Leroux had recently been traded to FCKC from the Western New York Flash and announced the pregnancy soon after. The loss of the forwards will require the younger forwards to step up. In addition, forward Sarah Hagen was traded to the Orlando Pride and veteran defender Amy LePeilbet announced her retirement earlier this year as well.

Key Additions:

The Blues may have lost some big name players, but the new additions with their draft class and trades have helped to keep this a solid team. One of the biggest additions has to be the return of Desiree Scott from her time overseas with Notts County Ladies FC. She should add that commanding aspect in the midfield that was lost with Holiday’s departure. Tiffany McCarty was acquired through a trade with the Houston Dash, bringing some experience at forward. In addition, the Blues’ first pick in the 2016 draft, Katie Bowen signed with the team and should add some more depth to the midfield. Although she is young, the New Zealand international comes with international and World Cup experience and should benefit the team greatly. She will join the team after she graduates from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Outlook:

The upcoming season is likely to go in favor of the Blues. Even without Holiday, Rodriguez, and Leroux, the team still has a strong foundation. Groom is likely to step up and be that target forward. She was the second leading goal scorer last season and in preseason alone she’s scored four goals.  She and McCarty will be a likely pair up top.

The midfield will likely have Scott in the center controlling the run of play, taking over Holiday’s role, which they shared in the inaugural season. Erika Tymrak and Heather O’Reilly will also be key in the midfield.

With the captain Sauerbrunn returning to the backline and Nicole Barnhart returning to goal, the leadership back there is set.  Although it is likely that the young goalie Katelyn Rowland will see more action this season with Barnhart getting older.  She has seen more preseason action this year and could eventually turn into the starter.

Season Prediction:

FC Kansas lifts the NWSL trophy after beating the Seattle Reign for the second straight year / Steve Dykes - Getty Images

Even with the major losses of key players, this FCKC team still looks strong as ever.  This team definitely has the talent to get their third championship and this writer thinks that the team could do it again.  The team will likely have another successful season and make the playoffs for the fourth time.

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