Jen Buczkowski – M
Hammer and nails midfielder didn’t exactly look like the most pressing need to be filled with the presence of Desiree Scott on the roster, but Buczkowski’s quality inevitably turned out to be too much to be passed up by FCKC. After helping Sky Blue FC win the inaugural league title in WPS, Buczkowski was a surprisingly early selection by Philly in the expansion draft a season later but more than proved her worth, becoming an immovable object in front of the Independence backline for two seasons. Constant on Chicago’s WPSL Elite team last season and stays in the Midwest this year as a likely bulwark of the FCKC midfield. It’ll be interesting to see how the club implements her and Scott tactically, but if one has to give way, you don’t figure it’ll be Buczkowski.
Sinead Farrelly – M
Though this FC Kansas City team is flush with talent in midfield, especially going forward, Farrelly should be the one ruling the roost in the central attacking midfield spot, at least come the beginning of the season. A captivating prospect in college, especially in her final few years with Virginia, Farrelly was given a massive vote of confidence by Paul Riley and Philadelphia in WPS, as she was taken second overall in the 2011 rookie draft. Though Farrelly wouldn’t really light up the scoreboard as a rookie, she did show glimpses of spectacular talent, enough to get her a look in full USWNT camp, though she has seemingly been in the international wilderness for a little while now. Last season was one of precious little true consequence for Farrelly in the long-term, as she had a cup of coffee with the WPSL Elite’s New York Fury before a stint in Cyrus for Champions League participants Apollon Limassol. Out of the limelight last year, Farrelly knows there’ll be pressure to perform to get herself back in the international mix as one of the U.S. top up-and-coming youngsters.
Melissa Henderson – F
Was a stud and a half plying her trade for Notre Dame at collegiate level but is still looking for a big breakthrough at the next level after the collapse of WPS hit her hard before what was to be her rookie season as a professional. Led her collegiate side to a national title in 2010 and was a terror for the Irish, with her blend of power, pace, and sure finishing ripping numerous defenses asunder during her four year tenure in South Bend. Saw limited action in WPSL Elite last season for Boston and didn’t make a big impression, meaning this is a big season for the Texan as she looks to lead the line in Kansas City. Skilled enough to take on numerous roles in attack but is probably best as the typical complete center forward spearheading the offense. Probably slipped a bit in the potential USWNT forward pecking order in recent months and will want a prolific campaign to try and work herself back in the mix.
Leigh Ann Robinson – D
It took a while for Robinson to find her feet at this level, but the San Diego alum rounded into a solid full-back for Philadelphia in the dying days of WPS back in 2011. Ability to play on either side on the flank is a huge asset considering a dearth in quality full-backs in the league and should provide much needed versatility for FCKC in 2013. With the club having drafted Courtney Jones in the supplemental draft with their first pick, you’d guess Robinson ends up on the left this year, though she could certainly be shuffled around depending on the form of others. Possesses plenty of size at 5’9″ as well, meaning Robinson could even deputize at center-back in a pinch.
6. Courtney Jones – D/F
Early selection by Boston in the final WPS Draft was a major shock considering her oftentimes mercurial form in college with North Carolina. The Breakers were thinking out of the box though, converting Jones to full-back, where she manned the right flank for much of their WPSL Elite campaign. Jones figures to do much of the same for a FCKC side that looks short on real recognized depth at full-back. The Tar Heel alum definitely has an eye for the pass, as her assist numbers at college level and six last season show, and she’ll have every chance to add to that number this season with many tantalizing targets for crosses into the box. Also could be thrown into attack if club is chasing a game given her history as an attacker.
14. Bianca Henninger – GK
Superstar keeper at college level looked to be on a fast track to stardom after graduating from Santa Clara but slipped a bit on draft day in the dying throes of WPS and didn’t play last year in WPSL Elite or the W-League. Despite some truly glaring needs from clubs in NWSL as far as goalkeeping is concerned, Henninger would have to wait until the supplemental draft to hear her name called. Henninger falls into a pretty good situation though, as she’ll get playing time when Barnhart’s on international duty, while also getting a chance to learn from a solid and experienced veteran. Despite not possessing optimal size, Henninger has great command of her area and is confident and fearless off her line while also being a great shot-stopper. Could be a future impact player at international level with time and experience.
22. Merritt Mathias – M/F
Highly touted youth prospect never really settled at first collegiate stop at North Carolina before turning into a solid player for Texas A&M for two seasons. Shook off reputation as a flat-track bully with an inspired senior season for the Aggies, including some clutch offense against her former club early in the season. Caught on with the New York Fury in WPSL Elite and proved to be one of the club’s more consistent offensive options, though the club as a whole often sputtered going forward. If she signs with the club (she wasn’t on the roster as of press time), Mathias figures to take up a super sub role, with her pace likely to give opponents problems in the waning minutes of matches.
30. Casey Loyd – F/M
Brilliant and frustrating all at once, Loyd’s career as both a collegian and professional has been marked by some sublime displays of skill in addition to bouts of inconsistency that have driven many a coach up a wall. Flattered to deceive in large part in WPS with both Chicago and Sky Blue FC before spending last season in WPSL with FC Dallas’ women’s team. Capable of scoring some unbelievable goals but can disappear at inopportune times as well. There’s no question that Loyd still has tons of upside and could develop still into a player of the highest quality, but she’ll have to fight for a starting spot here, as the club certainly isn’t shy for attacking depth at the moment.
38. Tina DiMartino – M
Kansas City took another flyer when they took DiMartino with one of their late supplemental draft picks, but at current, the eldest of the soccer playing clan doesn’t appear to be interested in continuing a professional career in NWSL. Another creative talent in the middle of the park on a squad full of them, DiMartino would certainly have to be in the mix for a starting spot if she could be coaxed back into the game, though that doesn’t seem too likely at the moment. A midfield star with Philadelphia in WPS, but seemingly chronically overlooked at international level.
46. Casey Berrier – D
FCKC reached pretty deep in taking a player who had never even made an All-League First Team at college level with Loyola (Ill.). Has since made a successful move to Finnish powerhouse PK-35, a stint that has included Champions League football with the club. Was a versatile option at college level, capable of playing either as a center-back or defensive midfielder, a facet that might work to her benefit as she tries to make this roster. Seems like a longshot given a lack of pedigree, but Berrier might have fallen into the right situation, as the Midwestern side aren’t exactly flush with defensive depth.
What They Still Need
In many respects, much of the first-team picks itself, with a few noted exceptions. The club could probably do with one more starting calibre defender, though at what position depends on which way the club wants to shuffle a versatile backline. At the moment, I’d guess that Leigh Ann Robinson goes left, with Courtney Jones going right, and Becky Sauerbrunn and Lauren Sesselmann in the middle. Sesselmann could easily go left with Robinson going right, but the club would need another center-back to partner Sauerbrunn in that case. The club’s reserve options in defense look pretty shaky, so some additional depth is certainly needed there.
Attacking-wise, the club looks pretty much set. The midfield is loaded with talent, though most of it in the attacking midfield is still very young, and the club could use a veteran head there with Tina DiMartino looking unlikely to play. If the club goes with a 4-2-3-1 like above, either Lauren Cheney or Kristen Mewis would likely have to play an unfamiliar role on the right. I have Mewis going on that side and cutting inside as a type of playmaking winger in that case.