For the first time, Kansas City has its own national women's soccer team who will kick off the entire season by hosting the inaugural game - meaning some of the sport's most talented female athletes will play for fans in the Kansas City metro.
Kansas City soccer fans this season can now cheer on three pro-level teams with Sporting Kansas City, the Comets and FC Kansas City. The FC Kansas City Blues hope soccer fans will show the women's league the same support they've shown to men's professional soccer.
This week was one of the last few practices FC Kansas City will hold before they host the National Women's Soccer League's first game in the league's history.
"It makes a statement. Obviously this is a new league. Kansas City is a new city coming into the professional scene to be able to host that game and set the tone for an entire season, and it is very exciting," said FC Kansas City defense Leigh Ann Robinson.
The 15 soccer players are not only prepping to win games, but also want to win over fans.
"I keep saying this. Kansas City is becoming a soccer town. With Sporting, the Comets and now what FC Kansas City is doing, there is a buzz about soccer in the community," said the team's head coach, Vlatko Andonovski.
Players hope that buzz will generate a faithful following. Before this league, many women soccer players continued their careers overseas, but the change gives them a chance to grow professionally in the United States.
"I think it's really important for women in this country to have a pro league. We have the best national team in the world. We should have a pro league," said forward Casey Loyd.
The league is filled with players who've also represented the American, Canadian and Mexican national teams, including World Cup champions.
"We have players that are among the best in the world," Andonovski said.
"Any little girl that wants to play at a higher level, this gives them an opportunity to have something to look forward to after college," Loyd said.
The Blues will face their first opponent April 13 at the Shawnee Mission District Stadium, located at 7401 Johnson Dr. in Overland Park, as they take on the team to beat - the Portland Thorns.
"I think it will catch fire here. The fans are going to love it," Loyd said.
Eighteen U.S. Soccer Olympic gold medal winners will play in the league. Fifty-five national team players joined the league's eight clubs, including 23 Americans, 16 Canadians and 16 Mexican players.
FC Kansas City will play 11 regular season home games at the Shawnee Mission District Stadium, which is the third largest venue in the NWSL.
The NWSL is an eight-team league organized and administered by the U.S. Soccer Federation that will begin play in the spring of 2013. The eight founding clubs are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC (New York/New Jersey), the Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash.
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