KC Current players revel in ‘new standard’ as the club breaks ground for new stadium

Emily Curiel/ecuriel@kcstar.com

Thursday night’s groundbreaking for the Kansas City Current’s new stadium at the Berkley Riverfront park was a momentous occasion not just for Kansas City, but also for women’s sports in general.

For some Current players, it was the light at the end of a tunnel — a dark week for the National Women’s Soccer League and women’s soccer in America.

“Obviously it’s been a rough week for us and for the league, to say the least,” KC Current defender Kristen Edmonds said Friday. “But going into last night’s production, seeing what’s ahead for us and just how much our ownership group and this city has invested in us, has invested in women not just in Kansas City, but all over the United States. … They’re not just changing soccer here, they’re changing soccer for the world.”

On Monday, former U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates released a investigatory report of 300-plus pages. She summarized the report by stating the NWSL had been a “league in which abuse and misconduct — verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct — had become systemic, spanning multiple teams, coaches, and victims.”

The report cited multiple factors, including a failure to protect players on the part of the league and U.S. Soccer, as as well as three key perpetrators at the NWSL level: Paul Riley, Rory Dames, and Christy Holly, all former coaches in the league. While the KC Current were not noted as having been involved in any such cases of abuse, Yates’ report did mention FC Kansas City, Kansas City’s former NWSL team, in illustrating a general lack of investment in player health and well-being.

Player surveys from 2014 pointed out that FC Kansas City players were using a player’s apartment living room as their training room for the first four months of the season. A survey in 2017 said that the training fields were poor and players “trained on turf nearly every day, despite being told we would be training mostly on grass.”

The KC Current have no such issues. Co-owner Angie Long called the team’s facilities “game-changers” ahead of Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

With a new stadium on its way and a multi-million dollar training facility already in full operation for the team in Riverside, the Current’s future is bright. But for a league veteran like Kristen Edmonds, it wasn’t always this way. She says what the Long family and co-owner Brittany Mahomes are doing is setting a new standard for the NWSL.

“I can’t reiterate what they bring to the women’s game,” Edmonds said. “The investment that they put into the women’s game and they put into us, I’m super-grateful for everything they’ve done for this sport.

“To have this be the standard now, and (Current ownership) kind of starting that new standard, for me personally it’s something super-special.”

The KC Current will play an NWSL quarterfinal playoff match at Houston Oct. 16. That game against the Dash is set to kick off at 4 p.m.

UPDATE ON THE CALL-UPS: While the Current have more than a week until their next match — their Oct. 16 playoff opener at Houston — a few players from the team have been in action for international duty this week. Hailie Mace came on as an early sub for the U.S. Women’s National Team in a 2-1 loss to England at Wembley Stadium Friday. She gave away a penalty kick and earned a yellow card in 67 minutes. Desiree Scott did not feature for Canada in a 2-0 win over Argentina. Chloe Logarzo and Australia were set to face South Africa Saturday.