KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the Kansas City women’s soccer team takes the pitch for its season opener against the Portland Thorns, Abby Smith will start as goalkeeper.
“I’m really excited that games are starting,” Smith said.
Smith has been battling for the top spot along with veteran Nicole ‘Barnie’ Barnhart and Carly Nelson throughout training camp.
“We expect our goalkeeper to be very much part of the build up with the feet, and certainly Abby is suited to that role, maybe a little bit better than Barnie,” KC NWSL Coach Huw Williams said.
Smith and Barnhart have been teammates for a while, as they both previously played for the Utah Royals before the team relocated to Kansas City.
Smith said she’s learned a lot from the former Olympian.
“I think we push each other to where we want to get better. Just watching how she reads the game is something that I’ve learned a lot about from her since I’ve been training and playing with her,” Smith said.
Smith has been her team’s starting goalkeeper the past few years. However, Williams continues to emphasize that no one’s spot is guaranteed.
He expects the goalie position to be a battle all season.
“I’d be disappointed if players were OK with losing their position. They’re successful partly because they’re that competitive,” Williams said.
Kansas City plays its final preseason friendly against Kansas State on Thursday evening. The team will kick off the season April 9 against the Portland Thorns.