Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Kansas City Current Lynn Williams acquisition is latest bold move from the team dominating NWSL’s offseason

The Kansas City Current recently announced the signing of forward Lynn Williams ahead of the 2022 season in a trade with the North Carolina Courage. In exchange, the Courage received $200,000 in allocation money, Kansas City’s natural first round pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft, and goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. Kansas City will also receive North Carolina’s natural second round and natural fourth round picks in the 2023 NWSL Draft. 

This is the third U.S. women’s national team player acquired by the Kansas City side, and second in the 2021 offseason. Let’s take a look at how Kansas City keeps quietly winning the offseason this year.

Winning the offseason while under the radar

The franchise ended their inaugural season in last place, but with an eye on the following season, after entering the league on bit of a rushed rescue. In December 2020, club owners Angie and Chris Long, and Brittany Matthews stepped in at the midnight hour to save a homeless franchise as the league prepared to move the Utah Royals roster after investigations into racist and sexist remarks from former administrators on the MLS and NWSL sides lead to the eventual forced sale of Utah Soccer Holdings. 

The approval of the roster acquisition meant a short turn around for the Kansas City side ahead of the 2021 season, and featured minor player movement to shape their roster. The team played with a temporary brand and home field, to give the club more time to prepare for the future. As the 2021 season went on, Kansas City made trades for NWSL forward Kristen Hamilton, prospect Hallie Mace, and U.S. women’s national goal keeper Adrianna Franch. To close out their season, the club announced 2022 home games would be played at Children’s Mercy Park, home of MLS side Sporting KC, while releasing their future plans for the first ever NWSL specific stadium. 

The team also unveiled their new crest and name, etching their place in 2022 during their final home game of the 2021 season. Then, immediately as the 2021 offseason began they restructured their on field leadership. After a season that had the team start and finish in last place, the front office recognized that head coach Huw Williams, who like much of the rest of Kansas City’s first season was a hire of convenience (he had coached a previous NWSL soccer team that had been located in K.C, FC Kansas City), was not the person to lead the team on the field. He has since been moved to a front office role, a technical position that focuses on scouting — though Williams’ title was referred to as Director of Soccer Operations in the latest team release welcoming Lynn Williams to the club. 

This offseason the newly named current have kicked their roster reshape into high gear. In addition to Williams, the franchise kicked off the trade window by announcing the signing of U.S. midfielder Samantha Mewis to the team, in exchange for Kiki Pickett, Kansas City’s natural first round pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft. It was a move that immediately boosted the club’s midfield. The Current were also exempt from the 2022 expansion draft, eliminating the need to assemble a player protection list for the double expansion event. The team re-signed and extended several players ahead of the trade window reopening for draft week, with Hamiliton, Mace, Lo’eau LaBonta, and Elizabeth Ball signing new deals or extensions. 

After drafting four new players out of the 2022 NWSL Draft, the club announced Camille Levin as General Manager, a new role for the organization, and Levin will be responsible for the overall management of the soccer operations and will report directly to ownership.

What’s next?

The club is one of two teams, alongside the Chicago Red Stars, that is still in need of a new head coach this offseason. When the offseason began there were seven clubs in need of filling the same position. With so much turnover in the league, it remains to be seen where the club will look to find the person they want leading this roster.

But, despite not having a current head coach in place, Kansas City has continued to pick up wins in their offseason making solid player deals and acquisitions, which reflects how they have truly excelled ahead of the 2022 season, developing their organizational culture by ensuring their club is a desirable place to be. 

After the longest season in NWSL history, the league finds itself in a shift after calls for player protections and safe playing environments echoed throughout the season. In the past clubs like the Portland Thorns, Chicago Red Stars, and North Carolina Courage were viewed as powerhouses in terms of attracting and developing talent, but in 2022, those teams are now dealing with cultural rebuilds. The landscape has now broadened to include the new California sides in Los Angeles’ Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC. But even with the west coast glitz and glamour, a young Midwest franchise like Kansas City is proving that despite not having a head coach in place, their foundation is strong, desirable, and growing. 

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