With all three teams in action this weekend we managed to trade questions for all three. FC Kansas City is back home and facing the Houston Dash while Sporting Kansas City is in Houston taking on Brad's former club and Swope Park Ranger is across the state at Saint Louis FC.
The Blue Testament: The Dash as an expansion team finished 9th and in their second year 5th. Now in their third year, what are the fans expectations of the team?
Dynamo Theory: Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs, and preferably a spot in the final which is being played in Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium. For two offseasons in a row now the team has had a lot of turn over while working to improve the team. One big challenge facing the team is the Olympics. The Dash will be losing a number of players to the Olympics including their current starting goalkeeper Lydia Williams to the games. Andressa and Poliana will likely be gone playing for Brazil during the Olympics as well. If they can weather the Olympic storm they have good chance of challenging for a playoff spot.
The Blue Testament: Carli Lloyd really tore it up at the World Cup and looked like she was keeping it up in league play when she returned. Before her injury did she look like she was going to keep that pace up for 2016?
Dynamo Theory: The team as a whole has improved since last year and I think that will allow Lloyd to be even stronger this year. The key is how available will she be to play. We saw her play 1080 minutes for the Dash last year and she didn't have a lot of time to really build up a rhythm with her fellow Dash players. She and the other World Cup players missed a lot of the season but with the USWNT winning the whole thing the players missed additional time for promotional events afterwards. Now she'll miss some time with her MCL sprain and will be back in time to leave for the Olympics.
The Blue Testament: The Dash is one of three NWSL teams that are tied with MLS teams, how much has that been an advantage in getting off to a good start as a franchise?
Dynamo Theory: It was absolutely an advantage when the team first came into the league. The team was able to pull on the Dynamo fan base to help get fans through the gates. The biggest advantage of all is being able to play at BBVA Compass Stadium. The team was able to get underway with a state of the art stadium and use the same practice facilities as the Dynamo.
One of the big challenges with it is that the teams share staff. Staffers then have two teams to try and balance. The Women's game is different from the Men's in who you are marketing to and level of support. What works for one doesn't always work for the other so you really have to learn two markets which is tricky.
Dynamo Theory: How is this year's team different from last year's?
The Blue Testament: Roster-wise, very. Lauren Holiday, Amy LePeilbet, Liz Bogus and Leigh Ann Robinson all retired. That equates to three out of four on the back line gone, the best midfielder gone and the Amy Rodriguez out with pregnancy. Lots of talent gone. Style and mentality are the same. The team will try to build the play up, connect a lot of passes and play hard.
Dynamo Theory: With so many changes to the roster since last season what is the biggest loss and the biggest gain for this team?
The Blue Testament: The biggest loss has to be Lauren Holiday. We feel that even though she was highly regarded at the national team level, she was still underrated. When we needed her to score in the first year she did. When we got A-Rod and we needed her to setup the opportunities she did. When the national team decided she should be a d-mid she did that. There really was no position she couldn't excel at if the need arose. Someone else will have to step up and score and create but it is doubtful they will find someone that can do it all so well.
Can I say the biggest gains are babies?
The biggest gain would have been Sydney Leroux but since the replacement for Amy Rodriguez is also pregnant, the biggest gain is Katie Bowen. The Blues managed to steal her on draft day. The rest of the league thought the New Zealand national team player was going to play elsewhere but she will be back in Kansas City after the Olympics, when the Blues will need a boost.
Dynamo Theory: FCKC is currently sitting on one point and is ranked only above Boston in the standings. We are just three game into the season but is this start concerning for FCKC fans? At what point does it become concerning?
The Blue Testament: In 2014 FC Kansas City was 9th after three games and won the championship. In 2015 FC Kansas City was 8th after three games and won their second championship. In 2016 they are again off to a slow start but the pattern isn't so bad if it repeats again.
The way Coach Vlatko Andonovski wants his team to play, they really have to be in sync with each other. With the changes each year it seems to take them a little longer to gel than other teams but once they do they are dangerous.
This year the worry is there more because of all the talent that left or is unavailable. The question is who will create? Who will score? There is little doubt that Vlatko will get the most out of them but does he have enough to work with this year?