FC Kansas City opened its National Women's Soccer League championship defense in rather unimpressive fashion last spring. The club won only three of its first 10 matches, and it spent more than half of the season on the outside of the playoff picture — all of it now a footnote for a team that won a second straight NWSL title.
A year later, the Blues are using 2015 as an example to stay patient in 2016.
FC Kansas City is winless across its first four matches heading into Friday’s home game against the Chicago Red Stars, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Swope Soccer Village.
“That’s evidence that it’s a long season,” Blues midfielder Heather O’Reilly said. “You don’t want to keep saying that, of course, but at the end of the day it’s true — there’s a lot of season left.
“I think we are not that far away. If a couple of small things went our way in earlier games, we might be sitting differently.”
Most notably? Finishing scoring chances. FC Kansas City has scored only twice in four games, the second lowest total in the league.
That’s at least partially a product of the turnover that the offense experienced in the offseason, losing striker Amy Rodriguez and midfielder Lauren Holiday. FC Kansas City’s possession-dominant style requires finding a cohesive mix.
“I actually think we’re playing well most of the time, but we have to cash in our opportunities,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “The philosophy that we have, sometimes it takes more time for our team to jell. So I think with just a little more time, hopefully we can turn this around.”
The match Friday will be the final one for FC Kansas City midfielder Jen Buczkowski, who last week announced she will retire to pursue a degree in physical therapy at Kansas. Buczkowski is the only player who has started every regular season match for the Blues.
“I think it will be a little emotional, but I’ll just be more concerned about winning the match,” Buczkowski said. “I think I’ll just be really focused on trying to end it with a win and try not to think about the fact it’s my last match.”