Cheney, Loyd, and Mewis, oh my! FCKC has laid out their roster in a balanced manner. Each position is filled with solid and reliable players. There are no serious loose ends in the team. Even if the team only selected 15 players from the list below for their regular season roster, they're still strong contenders in the league. The general manager and coaching staff for FC Kansas City should pat themselves on the back for acquiring the talent they did.
Nicole Barnhart is, unfortunately, best known as the second-string keeper for the USWNT behind Hope Solo. Barnhart is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and in recent matches for the national team has undertaken a starting position with positive results. She was also part of the FC Gold Pride team that won the WPS title. During that season she recorded eight shutouts (only allowing 16 goals) and was part of a 12-game winning streak. In 2011 when she signed with the Philadelphia Independence, she helped lead the team to the championship game. During the 2011 season she recorded a 1.11 GAA.
Bianca Henninger is incredible to watch in net. Henninger may not have received the same attention during her time on the USWNT but she was on the under-20 team during their 2010 CONCACAF campaign when she started in all five matches and only allowed two goals. In the same year, she was named the 2010 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year. This is in addition to the 2011 WCC Goalkeeper of the Year award that she won during her time with the Santa Clara Broncos where she recorded eight shutouts. I anticipate that Henninger and Barnhart will both get some time to play, but Barnhart is likely to start most games.
Lauren Sesselmann's performance on the Canadian National team has really helped in shaping her future career prospects. She is a hard tackler and should prove tough to deal with for opposing forwards. She's likely to start as a left back. Sesselmann played as a forward collegiately, but has transitioned to playing along the back line. For Canada, she has garnered 32 appearances with 29 of those being starts. She had a very strong year in 2012, appearing in 17 games and playing a big part in Canada's bronze medal win.
Becky Sauerbrunn is a real gem on the USWNT squad. She has only recently come into the limelight for the senior squad but in a short period she has created a name for herself. She is intelligent when it comes to reading plays and should start at center back. As a Virginia Cavalier, Sauerbrunn played in every match and helped her team in posting an incredible GAA of 0.40. Along with her teammates, she helped set a school record with 15 shutouts in her senior year. Outside of her national team duties, she has played for Washington Freedom and magicJack.
Leigh Ann Robinson is no stranger to professional soccer. In a short period of time she has played for Sky Blue, Atlanta Beat and the Philadelphia Independence. Robinson has produced a fairly low-key career but she is a good prospect for the defense. It is also possible that the other starting center back role, alongside Sauerbrunn, might be rotated between Robinson and Nia Williams. Robinson was a midfielder in college, and she recorded five goals and seven assists in her senior year to cap off a college career in which she scored 15 goals.
Nia Williams is another central defender who will have a chance to see some time this season. Williams played as a defender for the Missouri State Bears from 2009-2012. She started every match of her college career and racked up 14 assists. She capped of her career by being named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year during her senior year.
Courtney Jones and Katie Kelly are both talented defenders and will have a chance to play at right back. Jones has previously played professional soccer after she graduated from the University of North Carolina and played as a forward for the Tar Heels. At UNC, Jones co-captained the squad and recorded 36 goals and 32 assists. As a defender she will have greater chances to obtain regular playing time.
Kristie Mewis, who has recently been re-integrated into the U.S. national team setup, will be the most attacking midfielder for Kansas City. She has a lot of freedom to move around the pitch but will usually operate between the forwards and the rest of the midfield. At Boston College she was the semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, plus she was named to every NSCAA and All-ACC First Team throughout her entire collegiate career. She was also named a Division 1 ECAC All-star and recorded 16 goals during her senior year with 12 assists; she rounded out her college career with an impressive tally for a midfielder at 39 goals and 38 assists (she played and started in every game for four years).
Desiree Scott could end up playing on the right side of midfield for KC, where she should be excellent at starting counters down the wing. During her days as a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Scott played both in midfield and as a forward.
Erika Tymrak should start at left midfield. Recently Tymrak completed her college career at the University of Florida where she started in 90 games and netted 32 goals and 40 assists. She's also a one-time SEC Player of the Year.
Jen Buczkowski is likely to start in a defensive midfield role to start the season. In previous leagues, Jen has played for Sky Blue FC and the Philadelphia Independence.
Merritt Mathias and Sinead Farrelly are good players but best saved as subs for the squad. Mathias has some experience with the U.S. youth national teams but her time with Texas A&M as a forward was better than her campaign at UNC. At Texas A&M she made All-Big 12 teams and had a chance to demonstrate her skills as a forward. In the two years she played as an Aggie she recorded 17 goals. Sinead Farrelly is another addition to the team that is talented but best used as a sub. She has previously played for the Philadelphia Independence and the New York Fury. At the University of Virginia she placed on the All-ACC First Team four times, and earned an ACC Offensive Player of the Year award in her senior year. She would be drafted by the Independence as their first pick during the 2011 draft. Recently, she has suited up for Apollon in the UEFA Women's Champions League.
Lauren Cheney capitalizes on every chance she gets when she is anywhere within 20 yards of the net and should form a great partnership up top with Casey Loyd (or perhaps Renae Cuellar). As a midfielder for the USWNT she has accumulated 18 goals in 82 appearances. In college, she was an absolute terror. Cheney was a two-time finalist for the Hermann Trophy and broke UCLA's goals record when she scored 28 in her senior year. She accumulated 71 goals during her collegiate career and ranked second all-time in UCLA history with 31 assists.
Following her collegiate career, Cheney was the second overall pick for the 2010 WPS Draft when she was selected by the Boston Breakers. She started in 21 matches and completed her first season as a Breaker with five goals and two assists. She would return to the Breakers in the following season and net three goals.
Cheney's potential partnership with Casey Loyd should spell success. Loyd played as a forward for the University of North Carolina, and would later transition to the midfield role for her professional career with Sky Blue, but she's expected to return to a forward role this season. She has great scoring potential and is fluid with the ball at her feet. Her Tar Heel career is impressive with two championships under her belt and 55 goals to her name. Regardless of Loyd having not played fully professional soccer for at least two years now, she demonstrated that she hasn't lost her magic in preseason. Against Nebraska, Loyd had two assists.
Renae Cuellar impressed Kansas City fans during their pre-season match against the University of Nebraska when she almost scored a double hat trick. In an 8-0 victory, Cuellar netted 5 goals and assisted on another. Cuellar has played for both the University of Arizona and the University of Oklahoma. In roughly a three-year span with Arizona, she recorded 17 goals. In 2012 while she was a member of the University of Oklahoma and was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
Melissa Henderson is unlikely to see many starts for the team. Henderson completed her collegiate career at Notre Dame where she scored an impressive 70 goals. She was picked second overall in the 2012 WPS draft before the league folded and she proceeded to play with the Boston Breakers in the WPSL league. As a Breaker she retained her position as a forward.
FC Kansas City have a few fantastic stars to build around, but do they have the quality throughout their starting XI that other teams possess? That remains to be seen. The likes of Cheney, Sesslemann, Mewis and Barnhart can carry a team, but they could use a few more bodies.