Shea Groom did not have to look far to find supporters in her first professional home match last week.
In fact, one of her biggest fans was on the sideline with her.
Groom, a Liberty High School graduate, played for FC Kansas City technical director Huw Williams through youth leagues, which made her a big target for the Blues on draft day out of Texas A&M.
“He was very vocal,” Groom said with a laugh.
Groom also had family and friends make the short drive to Swope Soccer Village to watch the team defeat Seattle Reign FC 1-0 in a rematch of the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League championship game.
“It was always a blessing to have such a big support system; it’s how I got here today,” Groom said. “It’s exciting for them to be able to come out and watch me and for me to be able to get some playing time against a really good team.”
With the fourth game of the season coming up at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Houston Dash’s BBVA Compass Stadium, Groom’s role is already expanding with the absence of four U.S. Women’s National Team members.
Two of them, Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly, were the only two Blues to score so far across three matches. The other two players are Lauren Holiday and Becky Sauerbrunn.
“They are such strong pieces in our team, but I think they have really raised the intensity and raised the standards since they’ve been here,” Groom said. “As they leave, we are going to continue to build tactically and become a more solidified unit.”
Groom has not started a match yet but has played the third most minutes of any sub at 46. As a forward, she could fill either Rodriguez’s or O’Reilly’s place.
The other key subs so far have been Liz Bogus, who has appeared twice, and Yael Averbuch and Sarah Hagen, who have split the final starting spot depending on the team’s formation.
With the losses, the team was also allowed to call up two more players. They chose Groom’s college teammate Meghan Lisenby and Kansas graduate Caroline Kastor on Friday.
FC Kansas City enters the match with a 1-2-0 record, and although Houston has a slightly better record at 1-1-1, the Dash have not won since their season opener. The Blues dropped two in a row to start the season before defeating Seattle.
The Dash roster features three former Blues players in goalkeeper Bianca Henninger, defender Lauren Sesselmann and forward Melissa Henderson.