FC Kansas City has successfully blended local talent like Liberty’s Shea Groom with some of the world’s best players like Becky Sauerbrunn to achieve the consistency and aggressive style that has won two of the first three National Women’s Soccer League titles.
However, this offseason may prove to be the team’s biggest challenge yet as it sets out to replace four of the team’s most experienced stars in Lauren Holiday, Amy LePeilbet, Leigh Ann Brown and Amy Rodriguez. The first three retired and Rodriguez announced she is expecting her second child.
FC Kansas City took the first step on Wednesday by trading for forwards Sydney Leroux and Tiffany McCarty, who can both add to the attack. The second step is the NWSL College Draft at 9 a.m. on Friday in Baltimore. It will be streamed on YouTube.
“It doesn’t eliminate us from drafting anyone up top, but it definitely changes things,” general manager Huw Williams said of the trade. “It’s not the priority anymore, that’s for sure.”
Regardless, the team is still looking for impact players across the board. Groom and Erika Tymrak can provide that model as two instant-gratification draft picks.
Groom had four goals and two assists despite missing several games with an injury last year and Tymrak was rookie of the year with six goals and four assists in 2013.
“We are looking for one starter if we can and then depth,” Williams said. “If we can have one player that can come in and be an immediate impact player, that would be great.”
The team’s biggest weakness now is in the defense, where LePeilbet and Brown played every minute this season. The only remaining starter is Sauerbrunn.
With the return of 2013 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Nicole Barnhart and Katelyn Rowland, the Blues appear to be set for the foreseeable future in goal. The team allowed a league-low 20 goals in 20 regular-season games with nine shutouts.