Kassey Kallman was traded to Boston after she helped FC Kansas City win the NWSL Championship during her rookie season. The trade came as a bit of a surprise, but she was determined to make the most of it: “When I got traded from Kansas City I was a little devastated obviously coming off of a championship with them, but I was looking forward to turn around and help Boston get out of that second to last place position.”
Unfortunately the Breakers finished at the bottom of the 2015 NWSL table, seven points behind Sky Blue FC. Shortly after the final game Boston hired Matt Beard as head coach and a rebuilding began. A flurry of off-season and early season transactions saw the Breakers add to every area of the field. The new players and coaching staff appeared to promise a better performance for the 2016 season. “I looked at [our roster] with a lot of high hopes that we could have a shot at the playoffs or to go .500,” but the season started much like the last one ended.
The Breakers began with five straight losses and couldn’t summon a goal. Changes to the lineups and formation were rewarded with their first win against FC Kansas City, but shortly after Boston suffered some of their biggest losses of the season. In the middle of the season Boston earned back-to-back shutouts, but couldn’t continue their form and fell back into a run of sizable losses. The Breakers finished with a 3-15-2 record and a -33 GD. “It was frustrating with such high hopes in the beginning, but the lack of effort was not there on the clubs part [or] on our part as players,” Kassey reflected.
When the season was over coach Beard announced his intentions to revamp the roster and utilize the NWSL draft. Part of the roster overhaul was trading Kallman and Kristie Mewis to the Washington Spirit for the 3rd and 9th overall draft picks.
“I felt I wasn’t developing as much as I should have and I just wanted a change. So that’s why I was hoping for a new team and a new atmosphere; a new change, a new challenge.”
This was the second time she had been traded during her three years in the league, but this time was different because it was Kallman who initiated it. “I was the one who was seeking a trade. It’s been a hard two years and I felt I wasn’t developing as much as I should have and I just wanted a change. So that’s why I was hoping for a new team and a new atmosphere; a new change, a new challenge,” she said. A tried and tested central defender is something that teams can always use and a deal was reached that benefited both the Breakers and Kallman. “I’m super grateful that Boston worked with me on that.”
Kallman is excited by her future at Washington, “the club has had a lot of success in the last couple of years. There’s great players, players I’m familiar with from the U-20s or from Florida State, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there and hopefully making a championship playoff run like they did this year.” Kallman is expected to fight for a starting role in the Spirit’s defense, but she may end up playing on the left side, where she played when she was with Kansas City. Wherever she ends up, Kallman is ready to do whatever is needed to help Washington rebound after falling short in this year’s final. “From college I know what it’s like to be in a championship and not win so they are going to be more hungry for that than ever and I hope I can do what I can to help achieve that as well because that’s ultimately my goal.”
In a time where the USWNT is experimenting and looking at new players, Kallman’s versatility could lead to her first call-up, but she isn’t getting too caught up in the possibility just yet. “There was a time when I was really hoping for it, waiting for it, but there are so many good players in this league and I’m just focusing on myself and my development and my NWSL team and trying to do well for the team and see what happens from there.”
Kallman is also choosing not to follow the example of a number of NWSL players and spend her offseason in Australia playing in the W-League. “I play a lot of game minutes and I like to dial it back in the offseason and work on the things that I feel I’m weak on to make those things better.”
Playing ‘a lot of game minutes’ is a bit of an understatement. Kallman currently holds the longest streak of consecutive minutes in the NWSL with 3,780 (42 games). The streak began her rookie season with Kansas City and continued through the conclusion of her second season with Boston. Kallman attributes her ability to consistently get in the starting lineup to her upbringing. “I think how I was raised and what my parents instilled in me and in my siblings…one of the factors we have is extreme competitiveness.” That competitive nature has earned her starts, but she has also been able to avoid suspensions and injuries, though playing through pain is not always the best decision. “It’s something, actually, that I have to learn as I get older is there are times when you take breaks for the sake of the rest of your season. I still have yet to learn that lesson.”
Kallman is only 24 and with the frequency that rosters tend to change, Washington could easily be just another stop in her career. When it was reported that FC Kansas City may be bought by a Minnesotan the possibility of a Minnesota NWSL team came to the forefront (though it’s clear that FCKC will not be moved to Minnesota). If one were to be established it would be an opportunity that Kallman would be hard pressed to pass up. “I feel like most people would love to play in front of their home town and that’s what it would be for me. It would be awesome to play here especially watching my brothers playing for Minnesota United and seeing the hometown support they get.”
Nothing will be guaranteed at Washington for Kallman, but she has shown she is up to any challenge and will hopefully be extending her run of consecutive minutes at the start of the 2017 season and continue on her way to another winning postseason.