FC Kansas City stars Becky Sauerbrunn and Heather O’Reilly have to do better for this team to have a chance this season.
FC Kansas City only have two United States Women’s National Team players actively playing for their team; Becky Sauerbrunn and Heather O’Reilly. Sure Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux are on the team, but they are both pregnant and likely to miss most (if not all) of the 2016 season. And yes Nicole Barnhart and Yael Averbuch are former members of the USWNT. But the weight is really on Becky and Heather.
With the retirements of Lauren Holiday and Amy LePeilbet (and so many others) the pressure is on O’Reilly and Sauerbrunn to step up their game. In the first game of the season against the Western New York Flash, that simply didn’t happen.
The team looked all out of sorts. Now part of that could be the unique 3-5-2 formation that FCKC played in their season opener. We tried to make predictions for the season (in fact you can read part one and part two) but no one could have predicted a 3-5-2.
I understand that Vlatko Andonovski has to play with the cards he was dealt. Maybe he didn’t think there were adequate fullbacks to play alongside Sauerbrunn and whoever her center back partner was to be (I still stand by my Brittany Taylor prediction). Maybe that accounts for Sauerbrunn’s sub par performance. She was caught out of position several times and obviously had the critical hand ball in the box that led to the game winning penalty kick.
As for Heather O’Reilly, despite the weird formation, she was still out in the wide midfield where she generally belongs. Maybe the lack of a full back behind her meant she had to play a lot more defense. That could potentially account for her level of exhaustion. She seemed really tired, though she gutted it out at the end and pushed herself. That said, she has to make that penalty kick to end the game.
With the star power taking a dip, no matter what he formation, FC Kansas City needs Sauerbrunn and O’Reilly have to step up can carry this team. I have no doubts that Becky will figure things out. Whether that is this continued 3-5-2 or a more traditional four players on the back line, Sauerbrunn is the only NWSL Defender of the Year in the leagues three-year history. She will get it going.
As for O’Reilly, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for her. As opposed to the back line, on the wing you need someone else to score the goals. O’Reilly delivers a good ball into the box, but if there is no one there to finish it, it won’t matter. Erika Tymrak is pretty good on the other wing as well, but that won’t cut it. Someone has to score the goals. O’Reilly may need to play more centrally and use her immense talents to carry the offense on her back. If she has Shea Groom to partner with and Tymrak delivering balls, she could probably pull that off.
All this being said, it’s just one game. The sky isn’t falling (yet). The problem is there is no Rodriguez and Holiday to rescue this offense. We’ll have to see where the goals come from.