Saturday will mark the second consecutive year the Blues have opened the season at home after playing in the inaugural NWSL match against Portland Thorns FC last year. It will be FC Kansas City’s first game at their new home stadium at the University of Missouri Kansas City.
Lauren Holiday will be looking to follow up on last year’s performance that saw her lead the league in both goals (12) and assists (9). The UCLA-product set an NWSL record with a goal or an assist in 10 consecutive games and was overwhelming voted the league’s inaugural Most Valuable Player.
Holiday wasn’t the only Blues player honored at the end of last season.
In fact, FC Kansas City pulled off a clean sweep of the 2013 NWSL Season awards – with midfielder Erika Tymrak taking Rookie of the Year, Nicole Barnhart named Goal keeper of the Year, Becky Sauerbrunn claiming Defender of the Year, Vlatko Andonovski earning Coach of the Year and Holiday honored as both MVP and the 2013 NWSL Golden Boot winner.
The matchup with Sky Blue FC features two of the four playoff teams from last season and five players from the 2013 NWSL Best XI. In addition to Holiday, Barnhart and Sauerbrunn, FCKC defender Leigh Ann Robinson and SBFC defender Rampone expected to take the field Saturday night.
Defender and NWSL Second XI honoree Caitlin Foord also returns for Sky Blue FC as well as Mexico
international Monica Ocampo, the team’s leading scorer last season, and Canada international Sophie Schmidt. Midfielder and U.S. international Kelley O’Hara is also expected to play a major role for SBFC as the team pushes for back-to-back playoff appearances.
Sky Blue FC will host defending champions Portland Thorns FC at Yurcak Field in their home opener on April 19. SBFC opens the season with four of their first six games at home.
FC Kansas City play four of their first six games on the road, including trips to play the Washington Spirit and the Thorns FC before returning home to face the Chicago Red Stars in a midweek game on April 30.
ALL NWSL GAMES will be broadcast live on YouTube this season. The NWSL has also established improved live streaming production standards for the 2014 season, which will improve the quality of the league’s live streams. All games will be streamed in High Definition with a minimum of three cameras with experienced camera operators to provide better images of the action along with a standardized league-wide graphics package.
Live games will once again be available for free with archived games available shortly after each game’s completion. In addition, the NWSL will provide a highlights package of each game for the first time this season on the league’s YouTube channel.
YouTube Live will once again provide fans with features during live games including DVR, chat, HD, and social media interactivity. Fans are encouraged to subscribe for free to the league and team-specific YouTube channels. Please visit http://www.NWSLsoccer.com/home/about/800237.html for links to each NWSL account.