Five things we learned from KC Current at media day, including Super Bowl inspiration

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The Kansas City Current is just over a month from the start of its 2024 NWSL campaign, which kicks off in the brand-new CPKC Stadium on March 16.

During the club’s annual media day on Monday, players answered a myriad of questions about the new season and plenty of other topics.

Here are five things we learned about the Current ahead of the 2024 season...

Chiefs’ Super Bowl run inspires Vlatko Andonovski

Head coach and sporting director Vlatko Andonovski has called Kansas City his home for quite some time now. He even considers himself a Chiefs fan. And while, yes, the Current is part-owned by Brittany and Patrick Mahomes, Andonovski’s love and respect for the team during its victorious run through Super Bowl LVIII has grown even more.

“As a Chiefs fan, but also as a coach of a professional sports team in town, it’s inspiring what they’re doing,” Andonovski said.

Andonovski mentioned watching the postgame interviews after the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in overtime. He noted players and coaches talked about the importance of getting back to Kansas City and celebrating with the city because fans had still supported them even when things weren’t so glamorous during the regular season.

“It made me think of how supportive the city is of sports, how much they support the athletes and the teams in Kansas City,” Andonovski said. “It’s inspiring for me to know that we’re gonna be on the field battling, representing the community, and no matter what happens, there’s people behind us, people that have our backs.”

Current coaching staff has a tactical vision

Last week, veteran forward Kristen Hamilton made some eye-opening comments about just how different the atmosphere was during the first few weeks of training camp. She said it was a night and day difference.

Multiple players echoed that sentiment during their interviews on media day, including defender Hanna Glas.

Glas may have missed the 2023 season due to injury, but she said she’s noticed a difference in terms of the messaging from the coaching staff. She also felt KC lacked an identity last season.

“If someone would ask, ‘What’s KC Current’s style of play?’” Glas began, “no one, I think not even ourselves, could have said, ‘This is how we want to play’ or ‘This is us.’

“I feel like (the coaches) are setting a better identity for us, which will hopefully allow us to have better success this season.”

The clear expectations communicated by the staff at the start of preseason training have been met with buy-in. Veteran Goalkeeper AD Franch acknowledged the team had yet to face any trials or tribulations, but she believes the strength of the squad’s culture should withstand whatever may come this year.

“I believe this team has agreed upon a certain standard and culture that we want to continue to have throughout the season,” Franch said. “I believe (with) the energy and buy-in that we have so far that it’s going to be upheld throughout the season.”

Who is the hardest to go against in training?

As players came through the interview rooms, some were polled about which players were the most difficult to go against in training. It was almost unanimously Debinha. Her penchant for nutmegging players (dribbling, passing or shooting the ball between the opponent’s legs) has clearly scarred a few.

“She always goes for the ‘megs,” said young midfielder Claire Hutton, who is in her first professional camp. “You’ve gotta keep your legs closed.”

“Deb, I know she’s gonna try and go for the ‘meg,” said defender Gabrielle Robinson. “Maybe if I turn my body like a half step, maybe she won’t get the ‘meg.”

Rookie Goalkeeper Hope Hisey doesn’t usually have to worry about getting nutmegged, but Debinha still left quite the impression on her in a recent shooting drill.

“We did a shooting drill the other day (with) the midfielders, and I was in goal,” Hisey said. “It was kind of a ‘welcome to the league’ type moment.”

New arrival Temwa Chawinga said Desiree Scott was the hardest for her to go up against.

“She’s a good defender and very strong,” Chawinga said.

Roster full of international experience

At the upcoming CONCACAF W Gold Cup, the Current will have six players at the tournament: Nichelle Prince and Desiree Scott with Canada; Bia Zaneratto, Debinha and Lauren with Brazil; and Sophie Braun with Argentina.

Braun’s career path is a unique one. She elected to represent Argentina despite being born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her mother, who is Argentinian, ensured Sophie knew of her heritage by taking trips to Argentina. Her grandfather passed on the love and passion for soccer and the famous Buenos Aires club of River Plate to Braun.

“Getting to go to Argentina and see the soccer culture there is what really made me love this game so much,” Braun said. “Getting to play for Argentina and my grandpa getting to watch me on the field in an Argentina jersey is super special for me and my family.”

When she represents Argentina at the CONCACAF W Gold Cup, she will face off against the U.S. Women’s National Team in the group stage. It will be a moment when her two heritages collide.

“It’s kind of exciting to hear that U.S. national anthem and the Argentinian national anthem before a game,” Braun said. “Just knowing that my two backgrounds are coming together.”

Who scores the first goal at CPKC Stadium?

Opening up CPKC Stadium, the world’s first stadium purpose-built for women’s soccer, will be an incredible moment not only in the history of the club, but also in the NWSL. All eyes will be on the first regular-season match of the year on March 16, when the Current and Portland Thorns face off at noon Central.

But who will get the honor of scoring the first goal in the new stadium? That question was posed to any player who would answer it. And, well, the near-unanimous choice shouldn’t surprise you.

Debinha was the most frequent answer to score the first goal. Hamilton, Michelle Cooper, Chawinga, Lo LaBonta, and Alexa Spaanstra were also brought up as potential answers.

Unsurprisingly LaBonta has been keeping the pressure on teammates to have a goal celebration ready in case they are the first.

“Especially in the new stadium,” LaBonta said. “I’m so excited because that’s the joy.

“And when I didn’t get some (celebrations) out of people last year, I was like, ‘Come on. You need to celebrate yourself. Let the girls celebrate you.’ So I hope that continues, and I hope that’s this team’s legacy.”