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Blue Notes: Pulisic Injury Update, New NWSL Roster Rules, Leach Retires, Chiefs to KS?

Part of Sporting KC’s ownership is tied a potential effort to move the Kansas City Chiefs out of Missouri and into Kansas.

Soccer: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022-Iran at USA Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for another edition of Blue Notes. Let’s get caught up on Kansas City soccer with a little USMNT sprinkled in.

Pulisic Injury Update

On Tuesday (stretching into Wednesday in Qatar), the United States Men’s National Team advanced out of the Group Stage and into the round of 16 by defeating Iran. They did so on the back of a well worked goal with a beautiful lofted diagonal from Weston McKinnie, which was headed perfectly by right back Sergino Dest before Christian Pulisic knocked it home for the game’s only goal.

He took quite a blow from the Iranian goalkeeper in the process and would be subbed off at halftime. The good news is he’s now listed as day-to-day with a pelvic contusion and reports are he was out of the hospital at the team hotel before the team even got back from the stadium. It’ll be interested to see if he can start, come off the bench or is simply unavailable this weekend.

The US will face the Netherlands on Saturday at 9:00AM CT.

[Update 8:59 AM CT: No changes to Pulisic and Josh Sargent is also day-to-day.]

And since this is a Kansas City soccer website, shout out to KC for the continued impressive crowds at Power and Light which are getting featured on the national broadcast of the game over and over.

Taylor Leach Retires

Possibly lost in the World Cup hoopla on Tuesday was the retirement of NWSL veteran Taylor Leach from the Kansas City Current. The defender had been with the team for both seasons of it’s existence after spending five seasons in Sweden. Leach joined the Utah Royals in 2020 and came to Kansas City when the team moved.

“After much time and reflection, I have decided to retire from the game that has changed my life forever,” said Leach. “It’s never easy to come to a decision like this but I’m ready and excited to start the next chapter of my life.

“To my teammates, current and former, thank you for making my journey a very enjoyable one. To the fans, thank you for always showing up. The atmosphere you created was unforgettable! To the coaches, club, and staff, thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for and represent this club and city.”

Leach was out of contract after the 2022 season and it was uncertain if she was returning. Now she’ll move on to the next phase of her life.

As for the Kansas City Current, their offseason marches on. The next big known date on the schedule is January 12th, when the NWSL Draft will occur. The Current have an astounding eight draft picks, including four in the first two rounds.

New NWSL Roster Rules

The full rules for 2023 haven’t come out yet, but a big new mechanism was announced in recent weeks by the NWSL. They will now have a Under-18 Entry List. Possibly because of the situation when the Portland Thorns wanted to sign then 15-year-old Olivia Moultrie, the league will now allow players under 18 in specific circumstances.

Per the league website:

With the consent of the player and their parent or legal guardian, teams may place eligible players on an Under-18 Entry List to be selected under the following criteria:

• Each team is limited to two Under-18 players between its senior roster and the Entry List;

• Players must be signed to a guaranteed contract within 30 days of being placed on the list and the contract term must run through the season in which the player turns 18;

• Players will occupy a full roster spot;

• Players may be placed on or called up from the list at any time during the season;

• Players may not be waived or traded until the player has turned 18 or the team has received consent from both the player and parent or legal guardian;

• Players may not be selected in the expansion process;

• Players must reside with a parent or legal guardian until their 18th birthday;

• Players must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

As you can see, there are still some restrictions. Sporting KC regularly move players, without their legal guardians, into host family’s homes. Additionally, they even moved someone like Daniel Salloi from overseas, making him the league’s first ever (only?) Homegrown signing who also took up an international roster spot.

Sporting KC Draft Their Own Player... Again

Just like two seasons ago when Sporting Kansas City drafted Felipe Gutierrez, who they had declined a contract option on, they did it again last week. The team selected centerback Nicolas Isimat-Mirin in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Process.

After selecting Isi, “the drafting club will be required to make a genuine offer to the player within seven days.” That means an offer that can be less than what he made in 2022, which was $1,028,124. Him not accepting the deal simply gives the team the right of first refusal if another MLS team wants him. But if another team did, they could have drafted him in the first round, as SKC couldn’t make this selection until round two.

This by no means is an indication that Isi will re-sign. Gutierrez didn’t two years ago and when he returned to MLS in 2022 to the Colorado Rapids, they traded $50,000 in General Allocation Money to Sporting for his rights. This whole thing casts some doubt on the rumor that Isi was “drawing attention” from multiple MLS clubs. Probably just his agent trying to drum up business.

A total of six players were picked, including former USMNT forward Bobby Wood going to the New England Revolution and midfielder Victor Vazquez going back to Toronto FC. Colorado, having been burned by KC in the Gutierrez deal (is $50k really a burn??), drafted their own player in defender Lucas Esteves.

SKC Co-Owner Behind Effort to Move Chiefs to Kansas

The Kansas City Business Journal are reporting that Sporting KC Co-Owner Robb Heineman is the “driving [force] behind a provision in Kansas’ new legislation that earmarks state sports betting revenue to attract — or even build new facilities for — professional sports teams, like the Chiefs.”

“Heineman and lawmakers told The [New York] Times that he and other Homefield executives ‘pushed state officials to include the stadium fund’ in the bill. The state collects a 10% tax on betting revenue, and the bill, which took effect Sept. 1, steers 80% of that money into the ‘Attracting Professional Sports to Kansas Fund.’ Estimates see the fund growing at an annual clip of about $5 million.”

The potential targeted location is the Village West area of KC. If that area sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the home of Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas Speedway, Legends Field and the Legends Outlets.

Talk about a border war. It’s hard to imagine the Kansas City Chiefs ending up on the Kansas side of the state line.

Quick Notes