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Current Events: The impact of forward Cece Kizer and defender Addisyn Merrick joining Kansas City

Kansas City Current acquired forward Cece Kizer and defender Addisyn Merrick from Racing Louisville on Thursday. Their impact on the team will be immediate.

NWSL: Houston Dash at Racing Louisville FC Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Current acquired forward Cece Kizer and defender Addisyn Merrick from Racing Louisville FC on Thursday. In exchange, Louisville receives one of Kansas City’s international slots through the 2023 season and $150,000 in allocation funds with an additional $25,000 if Kizer meet certain performance-based criteria.

It’s a major trade for the Current at this point in the season. With the way Kansas City has been impacted by injuries (Lynn Williams, Sam Mewis, Mallory Weber) and performance on the field (5 points in 7 games, 1-4-2 record), it was a matter of time before the team went to the trading board. Acquiring Kizer and Merrick was a major positive for a team who needs to turn their season around.

Kizer was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2019 NWSL Draft by the Houston Dash. She played 22 games for the Dash in 2019 and the 2020 Challenge Cup before going on loan to Kolbotn in Norway. A return to the NWSL took her to Louisville when shewas selected by Racing Louisville in the 2021 Expansion Draft. She scored the first goal in Louisville’s history in the team’s 2021 Challenge Cup debut April 10. She led the team in games started (22) and was second in goals scored (5) and minutes played (1,889). She comes to Kansas City with two assists in seven games played so far this season.

Merrick was drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 NWSL Draft by the North Carolina Courage, appearing in seven games for the Courage in the 2020 Challenge Cup and Fall Series. She was the first player selected by Racing Louisville in the 2020 Expansion Draft, but she missed much of the 2021 season due to an injury. Merrick made a comeback for 2022 and started two matches for Racing Louisville in 2022.

Both players are from the Kansas City area. Kizer grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, helping Blue Valley Northwest to three straight Class 6A Kansas State Championship games. Merrick grew up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and playing collegiately at the University of Kansas where she led the team to the 2019 Big XII Championship and was named the Big XII Defender of the Year.

So now the big question: how will head coach Matt Potter use these two players?

Both players will be available for selection this Saturday, June 11 against NJ/NY Gotham. Kizer is likely to start, if not sub in the second half, given how much she has been a part of Racing Louisville so far, and an attack consisting of Kizer, Kristen Hamilton, and Elyse Bennett for Kansas City could produce the goals and chances the Current have been lacking, at least on the clinical side. For Merrick, time will tell. She could eventually be a starter in place of Alex Loera.

Perhaps Potter decides to change the formation to a 4-3-3 and goes with a defensive line of Hailie Mace, Elizabeth Ball, Jenna Winebrenner, and Merrick. As creative as the 3-5-2 has been, it has also given the Current trouble. If Bennett is not up front, Hamilton is often isolated, and the three-back system can backfire on counter attacks. It’s no doubt, as we have seen, that the Current need help in the attack, and Kizer is the addition Kansas City has been needing since loosing forward Lynn Williams to a season-ending injury.

Whatever Potter decides, Kizer and Merrick come to Kansas City to play in a system that gives younger players opportunities to succeed (like it has been for Bennett, Winnebrenner, and Loera). If you’re good enough, you’re old enough, after all, as Potter often says.