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Blue Notes: NWSL Expansion, KC Current Cut Two and US Soccer Salaries

Plus, Sporting KC II keep bolstering their roster and find a place to play and much more!

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Skyline of Salt Lake City, UT with Snow capped Wasatch Mountains in background Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Another week, another chunk of soccer stories you probably want to be familiar with that are at least tangentially related to Kansas City soccer (if not directly related). Let’s do it!

Report: Utah Royals Return

According to Meg Linehan at The Athletic, a formal announcement of the return of the Utah Royals is expected in mid-March. The team will technically be an NWSL expansion team, as KC soccer fans may be familiar with their story. The former KC NWSL team, FC Kansas City was moved to Utah to become the Royals (that name still stings, even if it makes sense in a Utah soccer monarchy context), then that team folded and became the Kansas City Current.

I don’t know if the league recognizes it this way, but I think of the KC Current as the successor to FCKC (and I definitely count those titles!) and to me this Utah team will pick up on the three-year history of the Royals from 2018 to 2020.

Utah will join alongside a rumored San Francisco expansion team in 2024, which will put them on a tight timeline (though not nearly as tight as KC did ahead of the 2021 season or Utah did when FCKC moved over). Boston is also rumored to be getting a team, but at a later date. Boston previously had the Breakers, but no word on a brand/identity for that team or the Bay area team.

KC Current Roster Moves

The NWSL season kicks off later this month and Kansas City is already well into their preseason (0-1-1 so far). As a part of preparing, they are still in the process of building a roster. In January, they selected eight players in the NWSL Draft, of which, two of them (Michelle Cooper and Alexa Spaanstra) have already signed.

Sadly, there was never going to be room for all of them. The team announced on Tuesday they had waived the draft rights of Mykiaa Minniss and Ashley Orkus.

Minniss (third round) is a central defender, and that would seem to indicate she’s behind other draft picks like Gabby Robinson (second round) who remains with the team. Orkus (fourth round) is a GK, and this probably means second round pick Jordan Silkowitz has won the third GK spot (though we’ll wait to see officially).

KC still have four unsigned picks. The aforementioned Robinson and Silkowitz, along with both remaining fourth round picks, Rylan Childers (University of Kansas) and Ella Shamburger (Vanderbilt University). Shamburger hadn’t initially reported to preseason, so it’s unclear if that has changed. We’ve reached out to the team and will update this story once that information is available.

Update: I haven’t heard from the team, but Daniel Sperry of the KC Star has.

For those starved for some KC Current coverage, they released a little behind the scenes footage of practice.

There are some highlights floating around out there too that I’m working on turning into something digestible on our YouTube channel. Go subscribe!!

SKC II Add a Full Back

Sporting KC II announced on Wednesday that they were signing right back Lucas Rosa. The 25-year-old right back was born in Brazil but came to the United States for college. He first played at Saint Francis University before moving to the University of Pittsburgh, where he was teammates with SKC Academy member and new SKC II signing, Mo Abualnadi.

He’s fresh out of college despite being 25 due to COVID and other delays to his playing career. The team is now up to 17 players on the roster for the 2023 season, not counting any first team loans or SKC Academy amateur contracts.

Sporting KC II Playing in Lawrence

In more SKC II news, they will be returning to Kansas to play in Rock Chalk Park. I admittedly didn’t get to a game out there last year as it’s a bit of a hike, but it does seem to be a much nicer facility than Swope Soccer Village from afar. However, if the team needs me to do some commentary, I’m happy to hop in my car and make the drive.

In 2022, Sporting KC II played a majority of their games at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, and with the apparent dissolution of Kaw Valley FC, it opens the door for them to play a chunk of games there again, which they will do until mid-August when they return to Swope.

US Soccer Pay

As a part of USSF releasing a tax form, we learned this week a little about the pay at the top of US Soccer.

Much was made of the discrepancy in pay of Gregg Berhlater (former USMNT head coach) and Vlatko Andonovski (USWNT coach). Steven Goff of the Washington Post went on to break down some bonuses that each of them earned.

I have no idea what coaches are supposed to earn or what is fair, as there isn’t as much transparency around that as player’s wages, so I don’t really have an opinion, though it’s a big gap. It is good to see healthy salaries for the USWNT players and I suspect it’s more than most of them are making on their club teams.

All I really know about the wages is I’m in the wrong industry. Oh, the years it would take to make that much money...

Quick Notes

  • The MLSPA put out a statement on temporary concussion subs. It seems FIFA and IFAB rejected the proposal, which clearly doesn’t do anything to make players safer. It would be weird to see players leave and then sub back on, but ‘weird’ shouldn’t outweigh player safety. The MLS was at the forefront of testing VAR and hopefully they will be with this as well in the future.
  • Referees are never popular, but I tend to think Alan Chapman is one of the better ones (definitely reference this after I complain about him). He’s got the Sporting Kansas City versus Colorado Rapids game this weekend.
  • Matt Besler is going into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame!
  • The Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is now part owner of Nashville SC alongside his brothers and the NHL’s Filip Forsberg.
  • This attendance is incredible. Imagine if the Rose Bowl, LAFC versus LA Galaxy game, hadn’t been postponed!
  • Ticketmaster is the official ticketing partner of MLS. I’m generally not a fan of them, let’s hope their fees and known website issues don’t muck things up further. Apparently SKC will stick with Seat Geek to those wondering.
  • This is fun!
  • These get me every time.