For first-round draft pick Kassey Kallman, the move to FC Kansas City meant a taking a step closer to her family.
“I was excited to get back to the Midwest because I am from Minnesota and I went to school down south,” Kallman said. “All of my family lives two-and-a-half hours away, so I was really excited to be a part of the organization.”
Kallman, who grew up in Woodbury, Minn., attended Florida State and was the first player in program history to be chosen Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year. She was selected fifth overall in the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League draft in January.
“It’s been pretty crazy, but really exciting,” Kallman said. “The talent on this roster couldn’t be any better, and from day one, I could tell I was getting better by playing with the players around here. I’m excited to continue the season, get games started and learn as much as I can from the veteran players.”
Now the time has come, and FC Kansas City will play host to Sky Blue FC in the season opener at 7 p.m. Saturday at UMKC’s Durwood Stadium. Kallman said she is expecting 12 family members at the game.
Kallman is one of six players that FC Kansas City picked up during the draft. She is joined by Lee’s Summit natives Morgan Marlborough and Mandy Laddish, who attended Santa Clara and Notre Dame, respectively; Jenna Richmond from UCLA, Overland Park native Frances Silva, who played at West Virginia, and Kansas City native Maegan Kelly, from Marquette.
“We are very happy with the girls that came in,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “I think the players that we got fit well into our system and the system that we are trying to embrace. We embraced it last season and are trying to add on.”
That system led FC Kansas City to the semifinals of the inaugural NWSL playoffs, where the Blues lost to eventual champion Portland Thorns FC. Though the Blues did not take home a title, they picked up a number of postseason awards, with Andonovski being chosen coach of the year, Lauren Holiday winning MVP and Golden Boot, Becky Sauerbrunn winning defender of the year, Nicole Barnhart winning goalkeeper of the year and Erika Tymrak winning rookie of the year.
In addition to their NWSL experience, Holiday, Sauerbrunn and Amy Rodriguez are currently playing with the U.S. Women’s National Team. Richmond said their early advice has been invaluable.
“It gives us a huge advantage to have girls who have been on the full team and have played together,” Richmond said. “Having people that have chemistry on your team makes the flow of the game so much better. It’s awesome when they’ve come to training to see the level that they’re training at, and I know that playing with them is going to make me better in the long run.”