FC Kansas City wrapped up the next to last week of training prior to the season opener at home against Sky Blue FC on April 12th. The Blues head coach Vlatko Andonovski seemed happy with the team's training.
"This week of training has been great," Andonovski stated after practice. "I know we don't have the full squad here but the girls that are here trained extremely hard and they know this was the last week of going really hard since next week is a game week."
Andonovski did not have the full squad this week because some of his national team players were called up. Nikki Phillips was with Poland for a match with Scotland (Scotland won 2-0) and Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Holiday and Amy Rodriguez are in camp with the U.S. for a pair of matches with China on April 6th and 10th. The U.S. women the first match with China 2-0 with a goal by Holiday.
Santiago out of the picture for now
FC Kansas City was allocated Mexican national team keeper Cecilia Santiago but she never showed up in camp due to recovering from injuries in Mexico. Andonovski indicated they are looking in another direction for backup keeper but added that once Santiago is healthy and ready they will take a look at her then. This would seem to bode well for Sara Keane's chances of making the team. The West Virginia keeper has been in camp with the Blues most of preseason.
FC Kansas City scrimmaged the Jayhawks March 29th in Lawrence and easily took a 3-1 victory despite not having their best game. The Blues created numerous opportunities but did not seem to play with as much motivation as the coaches wanted to see. The Blues also scrimmaged UMKC on Wednesday but there were no results reported.
The Blues last tune up was Saturday when they faced Oklahoma State at Swope Park Soccer Village. Despite missing national team players it was an easy 10-0 run for the Blues as many players were trying to still solidify their spots in the team.
With the national team players called up, Andonovski saw the Oklahoma State match as a good opportunity for players to make their case for a spot. "Absolutely a good chance, if Amy, Lauren and Becky were here they would play some more and start the game but with them gone it's a great opportunity for players who normally do not get a lot of minutes to get in a game environment and show what they can do."
Friday was Jen Buczkowski's birthday and the team surprised her after practice with a huge box of doughnuts with candles and a round of happy birthday.
Andonovski's secret weapon: Patty McTighe
Coach Andonovski's winter job is coaching the Missouri Comets indoor team that just won the MISL championship a few weeks ago. The Comets practice at the Kansas City Soccer Dome (owned by club President Brian Budzinski). One of the facility managers is Patty McTighe, a member of the Kansas Soccer Hall of Fame and one of the real founders of soccer in the metro area.
"The last practice before every game with the boys, momma Patty had an inspirational speech with the boys. Ever since she started doing it, we didn't lose a game in the regular season or in the playoffs. Sometimes people ask me what I was saying to the boys, I didn't do it, it was momma Patty," explained Andonovski.
"I can do it as coach or as a mom and it makes all the difference which way I do it," McTighe grinned.
With FC Kansas City practicing at the Soccer Dome Friday because of weather, Andonovski made sure to introduce the Blues to Patty in preparation for the season.