FC Kansas City is ready to make history, having lobbied successfully to host the opening match of the National Women’s Soccer League’s inaugural season. Kansas City will face the Portland Thorns on April 13 as a standalone match before the rest of the league plays their first matches the following day.
According to FC Kansas City’s president Brian Budzinski, the team first approached U.S. Soccer and the NWSL about hosting the league’s first game during negotiations to allocate national team players.
“We wanted that challenge of being able to showcase our city to the entire the league and, in theory, to the entire world,” Budzinski said. “Everybody’s going to be watching that first game. The goal is to have a sellout and create an unbelievable environment that translates to the people watching at home and in the stands.”
Budzinski could not comment on the specifics for broadcast coverage, but said “I think the fans are going to be really happy with what we’re planning, from a broadcast standpoint.”
After the January announcement that the United States’ Alex Morgan and Canada’s Christine Sinclair had been allocated to Portland, FC Kansas City requested the Thorns be brought in for the game.
It looks like Portland and Seattle Reign are destined to be rivals as the only two West Coast teams in the league with each featuring a marquee superstar – Morgan for Portland and Hope Solo for Seattle. But FC Kansas City and “The Blues” are ready to take on Portland in a different way.
“Some people call Portland ‘Soccer City.’ We disagree with that vehemently,” Budzinski said. “We feel like Kansas City is Soccer City.”
With less than two months until kickoff and a rough estimate of just under 2,000 season tickets sold, including to fans throughout the Midwest in states like Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas, Budzinski said the franchise is ready to prove itself.
“Nationally, I think there was this misconception of, ‘Who are these guys from Kansas City? They’re going to be behind the pack.’ I think to a tee, right now everyone will say this is not the case,” he said.
The inaugural game is scheduled for 7:35pm on Saturday, April 13 at Shawnee Mission District Stadium, a 6,150-capacity venue in Overland Park, Kansas.
A spokesman for U.S. Soccer did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the NWSL for this article.