KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BVM) — After fielding one of the most successful National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) teams last decade, Kansas City is about to see a return to the league.
In December, the city obtained the rights to a new expansion franchise which was formerly Utah Royals FC. All player rights, draft picks and certain other assets were transferred to the new Kansas City franchise in the deal.
The move was spearheaded by an ownership group of husband and wife Chris and Angie Long. Chris is the CEO for Palmer Square Capital Management, while Angie is the chief investment officer for the same entity. Both are thrilled to be bringing the NWSL back to Kansas City.
“Chris and I could not be more ecstatic to welcome a team back to Kansas City, especially as the league has been transformed by innovative leadership and explosive growth,” Angie said in a press release. “We are committed to getting this right – for our team and our town. We can’t wait for the players and the country to see what we have long known: there’s something special about living in Kansas City and something even more special about playing here.”
The new Kansas City franchise will be predominantly female-owned, with marketing executive Jen Gulvik becoming team president. Brittany Matthews — fiancée of Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes — will also be a part of the ownership group.
Matthews is a former collegiate soccer player at the University of Texas-Tyler and also had a professional stint with UMF Afturelding in Iceland. It will be the couple’s second local sports ownership stake, as last year Mahomes became a part-owner of the Kansas City Royals.
“As a former collegiate and professional soccer player, I have a true level of appreciation for what these incredible women do on a daily basis,” Matthews said in a press release. “I am honored to be part of an amazing ownership group that is passionate about the game and eager to welcome a NWSL team back to Kansas City. We have the greatest fans and community here in KC and I can’t wait to huddle around this team – we want more championship parades in the very near future!”
Mahomes is also excited for this new franchise to get started.
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) January 12, 2021
FC Kansas City was initially one of the eight founding franchises of the NWSL in 2012. They had quick success in the league, winning back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015. However, in the years to come, struggling attendance and an ownership change would eventually lead the franchise to Utah by 2017.
Part of the organization that included the MLS’s Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC thrived in their new home initially. However, they would be forced out of Utah this year after racist remarks by owner Dell Loy Hansen and a reported toxic culture within the organization.
Utah can have an NWSL franchise once again with new owners as soon as 2023. But now, after a long process that saw the Longs looking to bring in a new franchise since last summer, KC NWSL is here to stay.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our league, and I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Kansas City back to the NWSL,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said. “Kansas City is a soccer-rich community, and this fantastic ownership group is ready and able to commit the resources necessary for this club to be a massive success. I’d also like to thank the fans in Utah for their incredible support of the NWSL.”
Kansas City will join Racing Louisville FC as new expansion franchises to begin play this season. With the quick turnaround of bringing in this new organization, permanent rebranding is being halted until next year, meaning the team will play under the name KC NWSL this season.
After holding open tryouts and having the NWSL draft last month, KC NWSL has since begun training camp. The team will play at Field of Legends — also known as T-Bone Stadium — and some familiar faces will be returning, including Amy Rodriguez, Desiree Scott and Lo’eau LaBonta — all of who were part of FC Kansas City’s championship teams.
The squad will also be led by a familiar face in former FC Kansas City general manager Huw Williams. Williams worked closely alongside former FC Kansas City coach and current U.S. women’s national team coach Vlatko Andonovski during the franchise’s first stint in the city, and is eager to have a chance to coach the team.
“I’m thrilled and humbled to have earned the trust of the Long family and their ownership group, and look forward to representing our city and our players in the NWSL,” Williams said. “I’ve long admired Angie and Chris not only professionally, but as friends. They bring a drive to succeed and a commitment to providing all the tools we need to deliver for our players and their fans. I’m excited to work with all the players, and to reconnect with those I already know. In a league full of talent, it’s no surprise this roster is stacked with incredible athletes. I can’t wait to get started.”
The franchise has come back full circle to Kansas City, and players, coaches and fans alike are eager to get the season started. The NWSL Challenge Cup is scheduled to begin on April 9, with the regular season commencing about a month later on May 15. The NWSL playoffs will begin on Nov. 6, with the championship tentatively scheduled for either Nov. 20 or 21.