FC Kansas City general manager Huw Williams has spent the better part of the last few weeks exchanging emails and phone calls with his new favorite pen pal in New Zealand.
Her name is Katie Bowen, and the conversations started as a way to explore whether or not the New Zealand National Team player would be interested in continuing her career in the United States. The other option for Bowen, who will soon graduate from North Carolina, is to play overseas.
FC Kansas City, the two-time National Women’s Soccer League champion, won her over in the end, and FCKC drafted Bowen with the No. 16 pick in the NWSL College Draft on Friday in Baltimore. FC Kansas City made three additional selections, drafting Brianne Reed of Rutgers, Alexa Newfield of North Carolina and Alex Arlitt of LSU.
“Bowen would certainly be regarded as one of the top players in the draft,” Williams said. “We were shocked that she was still around, and that is a big pick for us. She fills an immediate need for the team, as well.”
Bowen, a midfielder for the Tar Heels, played on both the 2011 and 2015 Women’s World Cup rosters for New Zealand. That makes her the fourth FC Kansas City player with national team roster status, along with United States players Becky Sauerbrunn, Heather O’Reilly and Sydney Leroux.
Bowen fills the team’s need for an immediate impact player up front, which allowed FCKC to draft a center back with their next pick. The Blues selected Reed, who won the 2015 Senior CLASS Award and was an All-Big Ten first-team selection. She started all 26 matches and helped Rutgers earn its first trip to the College Cup. The Scarlet Knights finished the season with the best goals-against average (0.375) and shutout percentage (.731) in the nation.
FC Kansas City turned to the Tar Heels again and drafted Newfield, a forward. She has endured an injury-plagued career, but Williams said that without the injuries Newfield has the potential to change the tempo of a game.
Arlitt was FCKC’s final selection Friday. She is a midfielder who started 22 of LSU’s 23 matches as a center back. She anchored a defense that allowed just 29 goals this season.