FC Kansas City have their second home opener tonightat their main home in Swope Soccer Village. Last week they faced Western New York in Kansas City but the match was at Children's Mercy Park.
The Blues will be looking to rebound and get the season turned around after dropping the first match 1-0.
Despite being back-to-back defending NWSL Champions and having made the playoffs every year, FC Kansas City has tended to get off to slow starts in the past. This does not seem to bother head coach Vlatko Andonovski greatly.
"We are going to turn it around the same way we did the last three years," Andonovski stated confidently. "Nothing is going to change, we come to practice, we work even harder, we get ready, we fix the mistakes we made in the last game and improve on the things we did well and hopefully we get a positive result against Portland."
The Blues have played a possession, passing build the attack style that has been the praise of players and opponents alike, but is that adherence to pretty soccer the cause of the teams slow starts?
Andonovski acknowledged that is a big factor. "It's always like that, not just at the beginning of the season but when the national team players are going into camp and coming back it will always take us a little bit of time to adjust. Not that we aren't familiar with those players but to gel as a team."
"If we decide to defend for 90 minutes I don't think we have any problem with that," Andonovski continued. "I feel that part is fairly well covered, having Becky back there, she can command that defense very well and organize the team without too much effort. Her knowledge and experience is at that next level that she can be a coach on the field. The offensive part does take a little bit of time so the players can understand each other; understand their runs, their tendencies. That is one of the cons on the style and philosophy that we have."
Barnie looks fresh
Going to practice one thing looks different about Blues number one keeper Nicole Barnhart. When practice is over she is not covered in ice bags and training tape. Years of double duty with year round national team training and club competitions, Barnhart had little time to rest and heal. One of the positive aspects of not being a regular call up for the U.S. is the veteran keeper looks healthier than she has in a while.
"As good as she has looked the last three years I think she looks even better now," Andonovski agreed. "She showed in the first game that she is going to be a big piece of the puzzle for us and hopefully she continues on that same page, first hopefully she doesn't have to make the same saves but if she does she is ready for it."
Three points (of view) from last match
1. Shea is aggressive - second year forward Shea Groom is a pest. Opposing defenses and keepers will quickly learn to hate her if they don't already from last year. She is quick, pesky and doesn't give up. All traits a coach will look for and opponents will hate. In her rookie season she was called upon when the national team players were at the World Cup.
2. Formation change- in the home opener coach Andonovski got away from FC Kansas City's traditional 4-2-3-1 and used a 3-5-2 formation. While he has favored the 4-2-3-1 he has also used the 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1 and 4-3-3 as well. Look to see the formation continue to shift as the find the right lineup for the talent available.
3. Not a good start, again. With so much talent missing from previous years it will be interesting to see how quickly the Blues can turn it around.