FC Kansas City has been in camp for two and half weeks now so it is time to update on where they stand. This is the current camp roster:
DEFENDERS (5): Leigh Ann Robinson, Kassey Kallman, Nia Williams, Nikki Phillips, Becky Sauerbrunn
MIDFIELDERS (12): Lauren Holiday, Jen Buczkowski, Merritt Mathias, Erika Tymrak, Mandy Laddish, Jenna Richmond, Liz Bogus, Amy Rodriguez, Frances Silva, Katrina Gorry (report in June), Missy Geha (reserves), Molly Dreska (reserves)
FORWARDS(4): Melissa Henderson, Morgan Marlborough, Maegan Kelly, Sarah Hagen (report in June)
GOALKEEPERS(2): Nicole Barnhart, Sara Keane
Mandy Laddish - The Blues drafted local talent from Notre Dame and she looked good while in camp but has returned to school, for now. FC Kansas City coaches spoke with her and she has a program that she wants to finish but she will be back in the middle of May.
Cecilia Santiago - The Mexican keeper was allocated to FC Kansas City but has not been in camp. According to Blues staff she is injured and still in Mexico. There is still a lot of uncertainty with Santiago. She is playing for the U-20 which will be at the World Cup and also playing for the full national team so the Blues would only have for a limited time even if she is healthy. Figure out if they need to bring in another keeper.
Sara Keane - The WVU keeper has been practicing with FC Kansas City and they seem to like what they see. Would not be surprised if they keep her around in case Santiago does not work out.
Draft picks - The Blues staff seem to be happy with their draft picks so far. They quickly signed Kassey Kallman and it sounds like Morgan Marlborough may already be a done deal as well. Would not be surprised to see most if not all six draft picks signed in the near future.
Defender depth - Looking at the Blues roster, of the 23 players only 5 are listed as defenders. Blues head coach Vlatko Andonovski does not worry about how the roster lists their positions.
"We have something in mind for every player. They can be listed as a forward, if we think they can be a good left back, they're going to play left back. We saw it last year with (Kristie)Mewis, with Merritt Mathias and several players. I would not be surprised if it happens this year as well," explained Andonovski.
"We are definitely in search of a defender," Andonovski continued. "We had one good defender in camp, Shelina Zadorsky, but she is in school until May. As soon as she is done she is coming back. She has school and we didn't want to push her to get out of school. I don't think that is the right move to do for young athletes. As soon as she is done she is coming back and we will go from there."
Which Formation? - It was no secret that Andonovski favored the 4-2-3-1 last season and when you had a pair of defensive mids like Jen Buczkowski and Desiree Scott available, who wouldn't. With Scott having moved to England in the off-season, there is not a clear partner for Buczkowski in that formation. With all the talented attacking midfielders and forwards on the roster, the Blues may be tempted to change it up.
"Last year had the players to fit that formation," Andonovski stated. "With the personnel we have I feel we can play a little more offensive this year. We did try a 4-1-4-1 against Chicago which wasn't bad, I felt like we could do that but I don't want to exclude a 4-4-2 either, especially when Sarah Hagen comes in. Yes I do like the 4-2-3-1 but it doesn't mean that is what we need to play. We are not going to play the formation that I like; we are going to play the formation that fits the players."
FC Kansas City 1-1 Chicago Red Stars - The exhibition match against NWSL rival Chicago ended in a draw after the Blues tied the game in the 83rd minute. Draft pick Maegan Kelly played a heel pass from outside the Chicago goal box to Jen Buczkowski coming down the sideline that then passed it into the box for Melissa Henderson to touch it into the goal.
It's a very good sign for FC Kansas City to see Henderson get the goal. She struggled a bit finding the net last season. Henderson became the lone forward up top midway through the season and generally played well, holding the ball up to get her team more involved and creating chances. It did not translate into very many goals for Henderson though and with talented forwards like Rodriguez, Hagen and Marlborough on the roster, she will need to produce to see the field at all.
Andonovski was content with the overall match for the Blues. "Overall it was a good preseason game to see where we are at, to see what we do well and what we don't. It was a new formation to see if it will work and if we can be more attacking, if we are getting exposed in the back with just one holding midfielder," the Blues head coach observed.