The 2022 National Women’s Soccer League season came to an end a week ago Saturday night in Washington D.C. the Kansas City Current fell 2-0 to the Portland Thorns. It was a tough end to an amazing season for KC. The Current climbed from last place in 2021 all the way to the NWSL Championship in 2022, which leaves us nothing but hopeful for the future.
With the future in mind, we here at The Blue Testament have decided to put on our General Manager hats and try to make roster decisions for the 2023 version of the KC Current. We’ll break down each player that is out of contract or on an option year and decide if they should come back next season.
A few caveats about the decisions we are making. In the NWSL, we don’t know player wages and how they fit into the budget, so we are flying blind on that portion of a GM’s decision. Additionally, we are trying to take into account the NWSL roster limits. The 2022 (2023 hasn’t been released yet) Senior Player limit was 18-24 players, with up to four more players on the Supplemental roster on only semi-guaranteed deals. Finally, the KC Current have eight draft picks (one first, three seconds, one third and three fourths) in the 2023 draft that they will presumably try to sign or trade as the draft is still hugely important.
Players Out of Contract
Age: 35 (7/31/1987)
Chad Smith (CS): For me this comes down to if Desiree still wants to play. She’s toyed with retirement over the years and getting so close to a title may pull her back for one more run. Long-term, Alex Loera may be stealing her job, but even if she doesn’t start everyday she’d be an important piece in this team. She was not on the FC Kansas City team that won titles in 2014 and 2015, so she still is chasing that elusive NWSL title. Either way, I’m good with her decision to come back or to retire. I don’t see her just signing for another team though.
Thad Bell (TB): I would love to see Des back. Without knowing contracts and cap space I have to hope she can return without harming the budget too much. Her best days may be past but there are games where she absolutely bosses the midfield... and some where she doesn’t. Loera can play there and is better going forward but it would be nice to have that experience on the squad.
Cindy Lara (CL): I agree with Chad. It will come down to whether she wants to continue playing. I can see her playing one more year and likely remaining with the Current. The team needs her leadership and experience.
VERDICT: Bring her back, unless she wants to retire.
Age: 35 (5/22/1987)
CS: Edmonds is another player chasing a domestic title who is on the wrong side of 30. I’ve not seen any indication that she wants to retire and if she wants to return I think Kansas City would be smart to have her. She has played all over the field in her two seasons in KC, from fullback to center back to defensive midfielder. She is another player that the team needs a long term replacement for, but if she wants to come back and battle for minutes and push the younger players, I’m all for it. She was third on the team in minutes behind only Kristen Hamilton and AD Franch in 2022.
TB: Definetly want her back but hope they develop some younger players as well.
CL: Edmonds fit well in head coach Matt Potter’s defensive system, and she quickly became a reliable starter for the Current. I think the Current sign her for at least another year as they look to strengthen the defense.
VERDICT: Re-sign her and let her push the “kids.”
Kate Del Fava
Age: 24 (7/23/1998)
CS: This one is very simple for me. Bring back Del Fava! She had not been a defender until this season when suddenly she was playing right wingback (which is what I’m choosing to call it even if the formation looks like a right-midfielder at times). However, she stepped up and contributed heavily, including the game-winning goal that sent this team to the NWSL Championship. Her defense should just improve with more time in the system and she’s capable of playing elsewhere on the field in a pinch.
TB: When she embraced the more defensive role during a covid/injury shortage, she blossomed. Rarely flashy but steadily improved all year and scored that amazing goal to advance to the semifinals. Sign her up.
CL: Del Fava was one of the young players that came over from the Utah roster, and I thought she would be a regular starter in Kansas City, but her minutes were very much limited in 2021. In 2022, Potter used her more in the line up, and she became a dependable player. I’d be surprised if Kansas City does not sign her for a couple more years.
VERDICT: How can you not re-sign Kate?!
Age: 25 (8/7/1997)
CS: Another easy decision. Kizer arrived midseason and tied the team lead with seven goals, despite only playing half her year in KC. The seven goals bested her prior high of five with Racing Louisville in 2021 and nearly doubled her career output overall. I’m not sure exactly how this team lines up next year, but she is a KC native and having her in the attack along with Hamilton, Bennett and the returning Lynn Williams seems like a bit win for Kansas City.
TB: Local and scores goals. EASY decision to bring her back.
CL: We can probably all agree that when Kizer was traded to Kansas City, she was the player the stagnant KC offense needed, especially after losing Lynn Williams. No doubt Kizer remains in KC.
VERDICT: No doubt KC should bring Kizer back!
Age: 30 (1/19/1992)
CS: The defense needs an upgrade and Leach was not a regular starter (seven starts, 17 appearances). Elizabeth Ball and Edmonds were regulars with others rotating through the backline. Addisyn Merrick seemed to steal many of the minutes that had previously gone to Leach or Jenna Winebrenner. You can’t bring everyone back, particularly when you have eight draft picks, including four in the first two rounds. Leach is my first casualty of the offseason.
TB: Was not good and was beaten out by rookies and players that were not center backs. Wish her well.
CL: Leach’s minutes diminished after May, around the time Kansas City turned things around. That’s always telling heading into the off-season, and I don’t see Leach returning next season.
VERDICT: Let Leach walk.
Age: 23 (8/28/1999)
CS: McCain is a player without a position. She would get on the field in the midfield or at forward, but not for any extended amount of time (10 appearances, three starts, only 234 minutes). All of her starts were at the beginning of the season (or in the ‘preseason’ Challenge Cup). She was a second round pick in 2021 and is still young and could absolutely develop. However, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the team move on with so many potential incoming draft picks. They may give her more time, but I’d lean towards her not being back.
TB: In a different formation she would probably contribute more. Nice depth player that can fill in a few different roles but can’t seem to lock down playing time. Rookies or free agents can probably take the spot.
CL: Another player whose minutes diminished significantly as Matt Potter found the starting line up that worked best. She is a young player who could find more playing time with another club. There’s just too much depth in the Kansas City roster.
VERDICT: A surprise roster casualty.
Age: 27 (4/18/1995)
CS: If McCain is on the bubble, I think Johnson is probably gone. Even though she’s a Kansas City native, she has a history of not being available and was injured again in 2022. She also had a season-ending injury in her rookie season (2017) and in 2019. She only made two appearances for 14 minutes and I don’t see a world where she is back with the team.
CL: Agree with Chad on this one. No extended contract offered to Johnson.
TB: I’ve seen her play in high school, college and NWSL so it makes me sad to say but there will be other players. The NWSL is too good now.
VERDICT: Best of luck Jaycie!
Players with Option Year(s)
The following players have at least one option year (two for Winebrenner and Rodriguez) that the team can pick up or decline.
Age: 24 (3/4/1998)
CS: Merrick was a midseason acquisition in the same trade that brought the team Cece Kizer. Merrick had an immediate impact as well, getting onto the field regularly as the third center back. While she had some somewhat costly errors, including an own goal in the NWSL Championship, she showed a lot of upside and will likely get better with more time in the system, including an entire preseason at the club. Pick up her option.
TB: I would pick her option up while looking for more defenders.
CL: I was hoping Merrick would fit well in the KC system, but if the Current are hoping to improve their defense for 2023, I don’t think Merrick is that player. I think her option is declined.
VERDICT: Split decision... bring her back, for now.
Age: 23 (8/21/1999)
CS: The 2022 fourth round draft pick was hot right out of the gate earning a starting job over veterans on the squad. She started six of the seven NWSL Challenge Cup games. She remained a regular starter until she picked up an injury in June and then wouldn’t start another game. She did return and have four sub appearances at the end of the summer, but was either out of favor or not completely healthy down the stretch. Despite all that, it would still have to be deemed a pretty successful rookie season and I don’t see why they wouldn’t pick up her option.
TB: Pick up the option. I was disappointed she did not get more play time at the end. I was a huge fan of her early on, good defending for a rookie, very timely tackles.
CL: Winebrenner showed she was a reliable player and someone that really proved that “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.” The injury really was a setback, but I can’t see Kansas City declining her option. She can easily earn a starting role again.
VERDICT: Pick up that option!
Age: 23 (4/13/1999)
CS: The team just has to pick up Rodriguez’s option! While she actually didn’t play a ton, she was a consistent ‘game changer’ off the bench. She only had one start, but 16 appearances for 325 minutes and the biggest problem for her is she plays the same spot as Hailie Mace, who just earned yet another USWNT call up. Rodriguez has future starter written all over her. For now, she’s great at delivering set pieces and a good jolt off the bench at left wing back if needed. Long-term, I think Mace may need to play further up the field to get Rodriguez into the game more.
TB: Pick up her option. I’m a fan of Izzy and I think she can make the next step.
CL: Rodriguez was one of those players Potter relied on to come off the bench. While not entirely a starter quite yet, at least not on the Current roster, she is a player KC does need as a game-changer. Pick up her option.
VERDICT: Bring her back too!
Age: 23 (8/31/1999)
CS: Schneider is one of four players who didn’t appear at all for the Current in 2022 (injured Sam Mewis, Lynn Williams and Chloe Logarzo being the others). She is firmly the third goalkeeper and is a member of the Jamaican National Team. Every team needs a third keeper but I just don’t know enough about her to know if they should keep her or if she wants to go compete for minutes elsewhere. A lot may depend on what the team does with their other keepers. Franch is the entrenched starter and Miller seems like a starter-quality player when given the chance. I’d re-sign her based on the zero knowledge I have of Schneider to keep developing her behind AD.
TB: Decent keeper from watching her in practice. Clearly third at the moment but with Franch AND Miller unknowns for next year I would say keep her.
CL: Being backup goalkeeper in the NWSL is tough, but being a third goalkeeper is especially tough. Not sure Kansas City needs a third goalkeeper with Franch and Miller. But next year is a World Cup year, and should Franch make the World Cup roster in 2023, the Current will need a back up, just not sure it will be Schneider. I’ll say her option is declined.
VERDICT: Leaning towards keeping her.
Players with Unknown Contracts
There are two players, AD Franch and Cassie Miller, who we don’t have contract information for. Because of that, we’ll go ahead and assess if they should stick around, though a list of free agents in the NWSL didn’t include Franch, so she may already be locked up.
Age: 31 (11/12/1990)
CS: Franch actually started 2022 a little slow but she ended the season stopping nearly everything coming her way and earning a call back into the USWNT. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t bring her back, as long as she wants to be here.
TB: Franch is an unknown but I think that will change in the near future. Franch has seemed reenergized with this team, making huge stops. Sign her if she is out of contract.
CL: One of the main reasons Franch was traded to Kansas City was because she wanted to play in her home state/area. She’s from Salina. Franch will likely continue to be a part of the KC roster for a long time, perhaps until retirement.
VERDICT: No doubt Franch returns!
Age: 27 (4/28/1995)
CS: Miller was solid in net when given a chance to relieve Franch. When AD was a little slow out of the gates at the start of the year, I could have seen Miller taking the job. However, Franch took control and never gave it up. Having Miller as a backup would instill confidence in most anyone and only her ambition to start elsewhere may lead her away. We don’t know if she’s out of contract, but if she is, bring her back!
TB: Retain her. Again we do not know what her status is for a few more days but keep her if possible.
CL: Miller is a solid goalkeeper, and could easily earn a starting role with another club, but if Franch’s national team call ups continue, the Current will need Miller.
VERDICT: The team needs Miller with Franch back in the National Team.
The KC Current will make their roster decisions in the next week. What do you think of our choices? Let’s talk about it in the comments.