FC Kansas City boosts offense in draft

02/13/2013 2:45 PM

05/16/2014 8:51 PM

The first round of player allocation left women’s soccer experts believing FC Kansas City had one of the best rosters in the eight-team National Women’s Soccer League. FC Kansas City team president Brian Budzinski shared that opinion.

But one thing was certain after those roster assignments were announced last week — the Blues needed some offensive help.

FC Kansas City took care of that in the inaugural NWSL Draft on Friday, selecting attacking midfielder Kristen Mewis from Boston College with the third overall pick. As a senior last fall, Mewis scored 16 goals and recorded 44 points, one off the school record.

After a wave of seven player assignments from the U.S., Mexican and Canadian national teams left FC Kansas City with only one forward, the Blues found a player who has scored 15 combined career goals for the U.S. U-17 and U.S. U-20 women’s national teams.

“I like playing the attack,” Mewis said in a conference call Friday. “I like the attacking midfielder, but I can also play outside forward. Pretty much anywhere on the attack is my favorite.”

That represents a good fit. So does Mewis’ experience with the national team.

Mewis said she has practiced with the Blues’ three U.S. national team representatives — midfielder Lauren Cheney, defender Becky Sauerbrunn and goalie Nicole Barnhart.

“Lauren Cheney is probably my favorite midfielder that I’ve ever played with,” Mewis said. “I just love the style and love the way that she plays.”

Cheney shared in Mewis’ excitement.

“Get off the plane and hear I get to play with (Mewis) — oh how happy I am,” Cheney tweeted.

The inaugural draft consisted of four rounds. The Blues selected Florida senior Erika Tymrak with their second pick. Another offensive-minded player who, like Mewis, was an All-America selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association, Tymrak led her team in goals and assists. She ranks third all-time in assists in Gators history.

The Blues stayed local for their final two picks, selecting Kansas senior Whitney Berry in the third round and Missouri State senior Nia Williams with their final pick.

A four-year starter with the Jayhawks, Berry scored six goals and contributed a team-high seven assists last fall. A Wichita native, she finished as Kansas’ all-time assists leader.

“I’m so excited. It’s one of those things when you’re 5 years old and someone asks you, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ I would always tell them, ‘I want to play soccer,’” Berry said. “It’s just exciting, and I’m just ready to get out there and start playing.”

The lone defender in FC Kansas City’s draft, Williams was the defensive leader for Missouri State. She is a graduate of St. James Academy (Kan.) and the daughter of FC KC assistant coach Huw Williams.

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