Sky Blue Starts Season In Kansas City

Kelley O'Hara leads Sky Blue against champions FC Kansas City, courtesy Sky Blue

by Chris Henderson

NWSL Beatwriter

Sky Blue FC starts their season with the daunting assignment of facing league champion FC Kansas City in their first home game since defeating Seattle in the final last year.

The New Jersey side will hope that the late-season charge that saw them lose out of the playoffs by one point carries over into the first game of 2015. Kansas City’s league winning team will provide the first test for a Sky Blue squad that welcomes back US internationals stars Kelley O’Hara and captain Christie Rampone, both of whom missed the entire preseason. They join Danish international Nadia Nadim, who will be available for the full season after leading Sky Blue’s late push with seven goals in six games on loan from Fortuna Hjørring in 2014. Just behind her will be a refreshed central midfield pairing of Katy Freels and rookie Sarah Killion, who performed with precision during the team’s perfect preseason.

They face a team laden with US internationals that did not lose at home in 2014. Kansas City is led by 2014 US player of the year, midfielder Lauren Holiday, NWSL defender of the year Becky Sauerbrunn, and striker Amy Rodriguez. Rodriguez scored three times against Sky Blue in 2014 as Kansas City won the season series with two wins and a draw including a 2-1 victory and 1-1 draw in Kansas City and a 5-0 rout in New Jersey.

“The opener should be a special time for Kansas City,” said head coach Jim Gabarra. “They’ll get their championship rings. We have to make sure we put a good product on the field.”

Projected starting XI:

Sky Blue FC: Cameron, O’Hara, Rampone (c), Cutshall, Levin, Stanton, Gordon, Killion, Freels, Nadim, Hayes

FC Kansas City: Barnhart, Sauerbrunn (c), LePeilbet, Robinson, Moros, O’Reilly, Holiday, Buczkowski, Averbuch, Groom, Rodriguez

History:

All Time: 3 FC Kansas City wins, 1 Sky Blue win, 2 draw

At FCKC: 1 FC Kansas City win, 1 Sky Blue win, 1 draw

Last Encounter: Sky Blue FC 0-5 FC Kansas City (Tymrak, Holiday, Hagen-2, Rodriguez)

Battle to Watch: Midfield. Will Freels and Killion continue to click against much stiffer competition?

Broadcast: Sunday April 12, 4p EST (YouTube)


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