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31 for 31: Shea Groom's Lonely Season with FC Kansas City

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Everyone always talks about Dwyer Island, but Shea Groom was truly on an island in 2016.

Shea Groom was FC Kansas City's main scoring option for 2016
Shea Groom was FC Kansas City's main scoring option for 2016
Thad Bell

This is part 3 of a 31 part series looking at the 31 biggest stories in 2016 in Kansas City Soccer. Be sure to look back at Day One and Day Two to get caught up.

2016 was supposed to be a glorious year for FC Kansas City. They were coming off back-to-back National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Championships in 2014 and 2015. They had lost their star midfielder, Lauren Holiday, but things still seemed to be looking ok.

Then the news came that Amy Rodriguez was expecting her second child. Awesome news for her and her family but that would remove a key scoring threat for FCKC. "Not a problem" said Huw Williams, the General Manager of FCKC. He just went out and traded for Dom Dwyer's wife, and USWNT star, Sydney Leroux. That excitement and problem resolution was short lived because not two weeks later, Leroux also discovered she was pregnant.

What this all meant was that Shea Groom, entering only her second season in the NWSL, was suddenly thrust into a starting center forward role. If people think Dom Dwyer was on an island, he's got nothing on Shea Groom. Groom would score eight goals in 2016 but the next player on her team would only score three. That player was Yael Averbuch and she never even scored from the run of play in 2016.

In fact, only five other players scored at all in 2016 for FCKC (Heather O'Reilly [1], Tiffany McCarty [2], Erika Tymrak [1], Francis Silva [2] and Becky Sauerbrunn [1]). Sporting KC at least supported Dwyer a bit. He far and away scored the most goals (16) but he had help from Benny Feilhaber (7 -- though mostly from the spot), Jacob Peterson (6) and 10 other players. Dwyer should be happier about his help (I kid, he truly needs some help from the wing).

Groom being alone may have held back her development too. She actually regressed in the goals per 90 minutes category. In 2015, her rookie season cut short by injury, she scored four goals over 788 minutes, which is good for 0.46 goals per 90/minutes. In 2016 she upped her goals scored to eight but did it over 1659 minutes which translates to 0.43 goals per 90/minutes. It's not a dramatic drop off but factor in that she went from two assists in 2015 to zero assists in 2016 and that she took only 19 shots in 2015 and ended up with 48 shots in 2016 and the numbers hit a bit harder. That means she put 21% of her 2015 shots in the goal and only 16.6% away in 2016.

Late in the season Tiffany McCarty started to gel a bit with Groom and ended up with the above mentioned two goals and another four assists. Though it's hard to imagine in 2017 those two are on the field as much together. It will be intriguing to see if Rodriguez, Leroux and Groom are all used together at all. The team appears to be going from having only one striker to three. It'll be interesting to see how they all work together or if one or more of them aren't around for the 2017 season.