Two minutes into her NWSL debut, the long legs of Texan midfielder Addie McCain found the ball. Her Kansas City team was trailing the Houston Dash by three goals in the 75th minute but the game had opened up. To quell the end-to-end action, the Dash held up to stabilize possession, but the rookie midfielder out of Texas A&M wasted little time making her first challenge.
“They connected a few passes and I saw it was going to (Sophie) Schmidt,” recounts McCain. “I just went out to put good pressure on her. I was able to get a toe on the ball and poke it out to Lo’eau (LaBonta).” That poke became the hockey assist on the goal by Michele (Murphy) Vasconcelos, only goal of the match. “(LaBonta) was running at their back line and Murph made a great run to be able to finish. It was definitely a cool moment.”
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KC coach Huw Williams took notice, too. “Addie went in there and was very comfortable on the ball, very at ease” after being nervous beforehand, he said. “She helped win that ball and spring our forward through the middle.”
McCain’s challenge to Canadian legend Sophie Schmidt was no small feat. “My teammates always joke with me that my long legs help me out,” McCain smiles. Listed at 5’9”, McCain is one of the tallest field players on Kansas City’s roster.
An Early Love for Soccer
Soccer and softball both appealed to Addison as a child in Wylie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Her mother enrolled Addie and her brother in both sports as kids. But as the gifted athlete excelled at both, she was eventually forced to choose. “When they would conflict, my soccer coach would be less mad about me missing than my softball coach, so I decided, ‘Hey, I like soccer more!’” Not blaming the softball coach who was hard on her, McCain has no regrets about her childhood love for the beautiful game. “Thank goodness, it paid off a little bit,” she beams.
Youth soccer involved many drives across the metroplex to Frisco, where McCain played for FC Dallas under coach Matt Grubb for 11 seasons, from age 7 to 18. While excelling with her ECNL club teams, McCain also led Wylie East High School to its first state championship in her sophomore year. She then graduated early to enroll at Texas A&M.
At this point she was ready for the tough love approach of head coach G. Guerrieri and assistants Phil and Lori Stephenson. “They pushed us really hard and I think that’s part of the reason why they’re so successful every year,” says McCain. “They want to be successful and want us to be as successful as possible.” Her Aggie teams played in the NCAA tournament every year she was in College Station. Teammate Ally Watt was a first-round NWSL draft pick by North Carolina in 2020 and now plays for OL Reign, while 2021 draftee Jimena Lopez (who has a fine “soccer brain,” Addie says) plays for SD Eibar in Spain. McCain has also met A&M alum Shea Groom, who she says has “that same Aggie blood.”
In a a fall senior season shorted by the pandemic, McCain led the Aggies with 12 points in 10 games, and was named SEC Midfielder of the Year. While some players opted to delay a pro career and stay in school to play the unusual spring season and NCAA tournament in 2021, McCain again decided to graduate early, and prepare for the professional game.
Kansas City selected McCain with the 17th overall pick in the 2021 NWSL draft. The pandemic forced the draft to be held virtually but she was able to share the excitement of being selected in the company of family and friends from Texas. “It was a long day and it was stressful, but actually hearing your name called is an absolute dream come true,” she says. “Faith is something super important to me and to my family,” she adds. “Without the Lord and His grace I would not be anywhere that I am today.” Kansas City signed her to a two-year contract and a new chapter began.
New City, New Club
“Kansas City is a nice change, but I definitely miss Texas a lot,” Addie says. KC is close enough to her hometown for her parents Gary and Debbie McCain to visit for home games, and they were in the KC supporters section when she made her pro debut last week. “The city has really embraced the team, said her mother Debbie. “Lots of positive vibes from the fan base.”
“One of the coolest experiences” has been playing with Kansas City’s veterans such as Amy Rodriguez and Rachel Corsie, says Addie. “Some of my friends asked me what it’s like to play with A-Rod because when we were younger we always looked up to those kind of players,” she explains. “But instead of me looking up and being, ‘like, oh my god that’s A-Rod’ we’re really teammates. She coaches me, I learn from her, and she might even learn from me.”
The generosity of the talented pros has meant a lot to McCain. “They’re absolutely phenomenal as coaches and mentors, on and off the field.” KC goalkeeper Abby Smith even got to know Addie’s family. “Abby has been a great mentor and really embraced her, both being from Texas,” said Debbie McCain.
Coach Williams has been experimenting with Kansas City’s formation, fielding a different starting XI in every game thus far. One of the challenges has been a bevy of talent in midfield, with Australian Chloe Logarzo arriving recently from England and Jordyn Listro being signed late in the preseason. McCain has seen limited action so far, which was hard on her biggest fans, her parents. “It’s frustrating because she was really counted on at A&M, so to come in here and not get playing time is hard,” said her father Gary. But he recognized that the transition to the pro game would be different. “It’s an adjustment. Just keep working hard and you’ll get an opportunity some time.”
As the coach spoke to McCain on the sideline he saw some nerves. “He was giving me a few tips right before I went on and when he heard me have a super deep sigh he said, ‘I know you’re a little bit nervous.’” Now Williams jokes with her about this moment, especially after her brilliant first touch.
Nonetheless, Kansas City could not celebrate after losing to the Dash 3–1. “I was happy to be able to get my feet wet, but the result was disappointing,” she says. Losing two of its first three matches (in a very tough west division) led the team to do some soul searching. “The conclusion we’ve come to as a group is to focus on us,” McCain states. “We focused a lot on the other teams” in the first three games of the Challenge Cup.
Looking ahead to tonight’s game against OL Reign, she says, “The goal is to go out there and play free. We’ve got nothing to lose because the Challenge Cup is coming to an end for us, but it would be great to end it on a positive note to take a bit of momentum into the season.”
After playing last week’s game at Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City will have its true home opener tonight at Legends Field, the venue that will serve as their home field throughout 2021. The game kicks off at 7pm CT and will be broadcast on Paramount+ (USA) and Twitch (international).