FC Kansas City is coming into focus. And the club likes what it sees.
As part of the first installment of roster announcements, FC Kansas City learned Friday it will feature three players from the U.S. women’s national team that won gold in the 2012 Olympics — midfielder Lauren Cheney, defender Becky Sauerbrunn and goalie Nicole Barnhart.
A versatile midfielder, Cheney, 25, tops the list as one of the national team’s rising stars. She led the team last year with seven assists during CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.
“We’re really excited to have a player like Lauren Cheney, who we believe is one of the top playmakers in the world, headline what we feel is a really strong allocation list,” FC KC president Brian Budzinski said.
Set to begin play in April as part of the newly-formed National Women’s Soccer League, FC Kansas City will also receive Lauren Sesselmann and Desiree Scott from the Canadian national team, along with Renae Cuellar and Marilyn Diaz from the Mexican national team.
The NWSL released the roster assignments to its eight teams Friday. Players’ destinations were chosen by the league based on the players’ priority lists and team rankings.
Western New York received U.S. stars Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd. Alex Morgan is headed to Portland.
The Blues figure to have most of their talent in the midfield and on defense.
Sauerbrunn, a 27-year-old defender from St. Louis, has appeared in 37 games for the national team.
“I wanted to be in Kansas City,” she said. “I haven't had a chance to play professionally close to home, so for selfish reasons, I'm extremely excited.
“But I also know that Kansas City is a soccer town, and based on the messages I've already received, it feels like a great fit.”
Barnhart, 31, serves as the backup to Hope Solo, who was assigned to Seattle. While Solo was injured, Barnhart started for the U.S. during World Cup qualifying in 2010 and 2011. She has a career record of 26-3-4.
Sesselmann, 29, has started 24 games for the Canadian defense. She was born in Wisconsin and played collegiately for Purdue, where she set school records for goals and assists.
Scott, 25, has started 31 matches in the midfield for Canada and played major minutes during the team’s Olympics run last summer.
Born in California, Cuellar, 22, attended the University of Oklahoma last spring after transferring from the University of Arizona. The team’s lone forward assignment Friday, Cuellar was recently named to the Mexican national team.
“I’m excited to go to KC, and obviously being part of a new league, I think that’s an honor,” Cuellar said. “I think KC is going to bring a great environment, so I have very high expectations.”
The youngest player headed to Kansas City, Diaz, 21, is another recent call-up for Mexico. She played defense in four matches during Olympic qualifying last year, netting goals in two of them.
The NWSL teams will fill out their respective rosters via free agency and the college draft on Jan. 18. Budzinski said FC Kansas City has reached agreements in principle with several free agents, which he hopes to announce next week.