Several minutes after kicking off the inaugural season of the National Women's Soccer League, a group of FC Kansas City players met with the media, where they raved at their ability to mesh as a team in a 1-1 draw against Portland.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
There was no bragging in their tones. Instead, most said it with some sense of relief.
Things could have gone much worse, they explained, considering the team had enjoyed only a handful of practices as a full squad.
“You put a group of players together who have never played together before and didn't really practice together — you never know what to expect,” FC Kansas City midfielder Desiree Scott said. “I was nervous. But I was pleasantly surprised. We didn't have much time to prepare.”
That's a problem no longer. It was 13 days ago that FC Kansas City opened the season. It hasn't played a match since.
That's left plenty of time to prepare for a 7:35 p.m. match Friday against the Seattle Reign at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
“It's about time,” Scott said. “We've missed playing games. That's the best part about soccer — getting out there on the pitch. We're ready to go.”
The Blues' scheduled home game against Boston was canceled last Saturday due to increased security measures in New England following the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The game has been rescheduled for July 24 at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium, the league announced Thursday.
The postponement allowed FC Kansas City a luxury it didn't enjoy in training camp — practice time with a full squad. In fact, the Blues have done little else. And while that may counter the players' eagerness to play matches, it's been a welcome two weeks of training for the coaching staff.
“It's been awesome getting this time together,” FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Our energy and enthusiasm has been unbelievable. Every day we've been getting better.”
And now the games return. FC Kansas City expects to play a more fluid game in its second appearance, Andonovski says.
Seattle has opened the season 0-1-1, tying Chicago in its opener before falling 2-1 to Portland on Sunday. Seattle is making its third straight road trip to start the season.
The Reign was allocated three United States national team players — Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Amy Rodriguez — but none are expected to play tonight. Solo is out because of an injury, Rapinoe remains in France with Olympique Lyonnais and Rodriguez announced a month after the allocations that she is pregnant and will miss the entire season.
“Whoever is on the field, the thing that impresses me about Seattle is their determination and hard work on the field,” Andonovski said. “We understand the work we have to put in.”
In the national team players' absence, midfielder Jessica Fishlock has emerged as the pulse of the Seattle team. She scored the lone goal against Portland.
That places some added weight to the FC Kansas City midfield, which was certainly a bright spot in the team's opener two weeks ago.
“Being able to control the midfield is going to be most important for us,” Scott said. “They're really talented in the midfield, but so are we.”