One of eight teams in a new women’s professional outdoor soccer league, FC Kansas City conducted a national search for its first head coach.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
That search ended in the team’s own backyard.
FC Kansas City announced Wednesday morning that Vlatko Andonovski will be the franchise’s inaugural head coach. Andonovski is an assistant coach for the Missouri Comets and the director of Sporting Blue Valley’s women’s team in the Elite Clubs National League.
"I’m glad that our ownership is devoted to bringing the top women’s talent here," said Andonovski, who played professionally in Europe before moving to indoor soccer and playing for the Kansas City Comets. "And I’m honored that I will get the chance to work with them."
FC Kansas City also named Huw Williams an assistant coach. Williams is the director of girls coaching for the Sporting Blue Valley women’s team.
The Missouri Comets ownership group — led by Chris Likens and his two sons, Greg Likens and Brad Likens, along with Brian Budzinski — owns FC Kansas City, nicknamed the Blues, who are scheduled to begin play in spring 2013.
Budzinski said the Blues’ search for a coach included national candidates, but Andonovski’s experience in Kansas City gave him an edge.
"The thing we kept coming back to is we have so many quality coaches in Kansas City that know the city," Budzinski said. "For us, it was really important they they understand the city. When you have those qualified coaches here, it doesn’t make sense to go outside the city."
Players describe Andonovski as a low-key coach who provides a calming influence on the bench, which Budzinski hopes is an attractive quality to higher level players on the U.S. senior women’s national team.
FC Kansas City will feature three U.S. senior team members, two from the Canadian national team and at least one from the Mexican national team.
Andonovski and Williams have both coached or directed players on the U.S. under-23 and U-20 women’s rosters.
"Our selections are a long-term approach and a long-term view," Budzinski said. "We feel like we’re going to have access to the top players as they’re graduating from college — the future stars for the senior national team."
FC Kansas City has not yet settled on a venue for its home games.
None of the eight teams — which are located in Kansas City, Chicago, Boston, Portland, Seattle, Washington D.C., New Jersey and western New York — have been assigned their players from the national team rosters, though that could be coming soon.
Representatives from the teams will be in Houston on Wednesday for the U.S. women’s game against China. There, they will meet with national team players.
Budzinksi said FC Kansas City is also talking to available free agents, and the newly-announced coaching staff is piecing together a draft board for the draft of college seniors in January.