FC Kansas City announced Tuesday that they had signed New Zealand midfielder Katie Bowen. The Blues selected Bowen 16th overall in the 2016 NWSL College Draft. She has been added to the roster but the move is awaiting receipt of her P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Bowen, just 21 years old is already a veteran of two World Cups and an Olympics, having represented New Zealand since playing for the U-17's on her 14th birthday. She has been a starter for North Carolina each year.
"We got a first round, probably a top five player in the second round of the draft," FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski e stated Tuesday afternoon. "I think she is one of those young players that will come into the league and make an immediate impact."
The player nobody expected to play is the first to sign
When the New Zealand native was still available at the 16th spot in the draft, the Blues had no choice but to take her with their first pick. They had not expected Bowen to be available, evidenced by the fact they had already traded away all of their international slots.
There was some doubt around the teams in the league that Bowen would stay in the United States and play in the NWSL but Andonovski and Director of Soccer Operations Huw Williams had been in contact with her throughout the process.
As Andonovski explained after the draft, "We were in contact with her constantly the last week (before the draft) just in case. We contacted her during the draft and her coach was right there, we were talking to Anson Dorrance as well before we made the move. We talked after we picked her as well."
So in an interesting twist, the player that most teams were worried would not stay in the U.S. and play in the NWSL was the first draft pick to sign.
"I am thrilled to be joining such an amazing team," Bowen said via press release. "The team culture sounds like one I am going to thoroughly enjoy. Being a professional soccer player was a dream for me and Kansas City has made that into a reality. I'm excited to show off my speed and work ethic to both the fans and clubs, and of course, have fun doing it."
"Katie [Bowen] is a highly talented young versatile player. She is one of the most experienced 21-year-old players in the world and we are excited to add her to our team," Director of Soccer Operations Huw Williams said in the press release. "She enjoyed a standout career at UNC and is a budding star at the international level. We look forward to her continued development as part of our FCKC family."
Both Andonovski and Williams described Bowen as versatile. She played both midfield and on the back line for North Carolina but can most commonly be found in the midfield for New Zealand. Bowen seems to be a natural fit in defensive midfield for the Blues.