FC Kansas City / National Women's Soccer League

DRAFT PREVIEW: Defending champs look to bolster roster at NWSL draft

A year after being 45 minutes away from a championship appearance, FC Kansas City met Portland in the NWSL semifinals yet again after finishing 12-7-5 on the season. The Blues topped the league-leading Seattle Reign, 2-1, in the NWSL final behind a pair of goals from Amy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who was traded from the Reign to KC prior to the 2014 season, came off maternity leave to lead Kansas City in scoring with 13 goals while adding three assists. Lauren Holiday and Erika Tymrak did not match their production from 2013 but still contributed eight and four goals respectively.

The biggest issue for 2015 for Vlatko Andonovski’s side will be how the club is able to balance the roster in terms of who will be available during the World Cup and its build up. Rodriguez, Holiday, Becky Sauerbrunn and Nicole Barnhart all figure to be in residency camp with Team USA.

Nikki Phillips will reportedly miss the 2015 season while on maternity leave, which leaves a second hole on the backline. Kansas City figures to fill that hole with one of the five picks the club holds going into tomorrow’s draft. With Kassey Kallman and Merritt Mathias also departing the roster via trade, several more spots open up on the backline.

The World Cup call ups will also impact the attack significantly. Of the 39 goals the Blues scored last season, 21 of them were scored by either Rodriguez or Holiday with Sauerbrunn chipping in a goal as well. Andonovski will rely heavily on Tymrak, Sarah Hagen and Francis Silva in the attack with at least one of the six draft picks likely going towards an additional attacker.

Key Stats: 39 goals scored, 32 goals allowed

Key Losses: Kassey Kallman (D, trade to Boston), Morgan Marlborough (F, traded to Boston)

Additions: Yael Averbuch (M), Heather O’Reilly (M), Kate Deines (D), Rafaelle Souza (F)

The addition of Heather O’Reilly added another dangerous scorer to what has been a multi-pronged attack over the first two season in NWSL. O’Reilly’s availability may be limited, but the time that she spends with the reigning NWSL champs will give opponents yet another weapon to try and keep scoreless.

Yael Averbuch was shaky in Washington last season but hopefully a more possession-oriented style will suit the former North Carolina product.

Kate Deines will at the very least provide depth on the back line, but can also step up immediately onto a back line that will be missing several parts from last season.

Draft Picks Held: No. 12, 16, 17, 19, 26, 35

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