JJ Duke takes a look at what FC Kansas City might (and should) do in the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. The two-time league champions will try to regain form with five picks in this year’s draft.
5, 13, 17, 25, 35
Molly Menchel (waived)
Frances Silva (retired)
Possible Draft Day Activity Level
FC Kansas City will be quietly active come draft day. They’ll definitely be using at least three picks in a quest for immediate help but I would not be shocked if they try to package the later of their two second-round picks and their third rounder/2018 pick for a trade to the right team.
What the Blues Need
If there is any team that has question marks surrounding all aspects of the organization come draft day, it’s FC Kansas City. It’s been a tumultuous season for the two-time champions: from the likely change in ownership to possible relocation to general manager and assistant coach Huw Williams stepping away from the program.
On the field, the team has been playing shorthanded after Lauren Holiday retired after the 2015 season and Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux (who has yet to appear in a competitive match for the team) missed the 2016 season due to welcoming babies into their families. In addition, Becky Sauerbrunn, Heather O’Reilly, Desiree Scott, and Katie Bowen all missed a good chunk of the 2016 season due to the Rio Olympics.
Added to the absences and retirements, the team went through a goal-scoring drought that saw it score a total of 18 goals in 20 games, with eight of those coming from Shea Groom. Coming into this season, banking on Rodriguez to quickly find the form she had in the past two years and Leroux, who had a brilliant 2013 with the Boston Breakers (remember that?), might not be the most foolproof scoring plan. If Rodriguez and Leroux do find peak form, that’s a bonus, not a strategy. So a forward is a must. Also, getting a sturdy center back to partner with Sauerbrunn would be ideal and allow Yael Averbuch to get back into the midfield.
With the Boston Breakers probably taking a midfielder and outside back early and the North Carolina Courage and Sky Blue FC ahead of them in the draft order, a top-tier center back could be on the board in the first round. It’s a better move for Kansas City to go defense first and scoop up a forward in the second round since there are plenty available. The issue is finding the best center back. This year’s best center back, Kadeisha Buchanan, is heading overseas — leaving us with only the thought of a Buchanan and Sauerbrunn defensive pairing. Players like Maddie Bauer could fit this role but in case she gets selected prior to Kansas City’s fifth pick, a couple of University of Virginia defenders could fill that spot, namely Kristin McNabb or Meghan Cox.
In terms of a forward or an attacking midfielder who could work with Rodriguez and Groom (and Leroux), Rachel Hill from UConn falling to the mid-to-late second round would be a coup for the Blues. Hill could sit in underneath the forwards and distribute, giving Averbuch a chance to pull the strings from deeper in the midfield. Another possibility is Arielle Ship out of California being around at this selection too, and similar to Hill, she can be very dynamic in the attack while sitting in just underneath the forward line.