FC Kansas City finishes out their three game road trip with their first game against the Chicago Red Stars this evening. Both teams have players called up for national team duty but Chicago will be missing only two while the Blues will have to field a drastically different lineup with six starters missing.
The Red Stars have two Canadians missing, goalkeeper Erin Mcleod and defender Carmelina Moscato. FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski will be with the services of U.S. regulars Lauren Cheney, Kristie Mewis, Becky Sauerbrunn and Nicole Barnhart and Canadian starters Lauren Sesselmann and Desiree Scott.
"Before the season started, we knew we were going be missing some players for some certain games," Andonovski explained. "We have a good roster, a deep roster and it is a perfect opportunity for some of those players that haven't played a lot of minutes to play and hopefully grab a spot on the roster for a game to come."
On Wednesday, FC Kansas City announced the call up of three reserve players; Natalie Norris, Jaime French and Missy Geha. With so many starters missing, Andonvski may have to use one of these players but he is not worried. "The reserve players have been with us since the start of the season so they know our system and style of play."
With starting keeper Nicole "Barnie" Barnhart with the national team, Bianca Henninger will almost certainly get her first start of the season. "The group is excited and we get an opportunity to show our stuff. Everyone is ready to embrace it and bring it on Thursday and Sunday," Henninger said after practice on Tuesday.
Henninger has been biding her time for an opportunity behind Barnhart but has used the time to train and learn from the veteran. "If you are playing at this level, your goal would be to play and of course that part is not fun but Barnie is a great person to be behind," Henninger explained. "She is a great mentor and she brings it every day. She kind of makes you bring your game to the next level every day and if you don't you're going to get left behind. Other than the fact you would love to be playing, there is no negative about it."
Talented attacker Casey Loyd is back with the Blues and should be available for Coach Andonovski as well. Loyd is playing a limited schedule this season based on other commitments.
Blues forward Renae Cuellar was still questionable after having been injured in the match in Portland and will be a game time decision.
The match is scheduled to start at 6:30 and FC Kansas City is hosting their regular official watch party at Futbol Club Eatery and Tap in Overland Park. The game can also be viewed on the NWSL live stream.