Leigh Ann Robinson: The Veteran

by: Lindsey Daley,Special contributor to FCKansasCity.com

Leigh Ann Robinson is no stranger to the women’s professional soccer scene. The 26 year old defender is seasoned in professional soccer. Before the National Women’s Soccer League, there was Women’s Professional Soccer. Robinson played for FC Gold Pride, Atlanta Beat and the Philadelphia Independence before the league folded in early 2012. While in the WPS, she started 40 games and tallied 3,712 minutes. Her heart was heavy after the news of the WPS folding, but she would not be down for long.

NLAR_In-Storyovember 2012, plans were starting to come together for a more concrete league for women’s professional soccer in the United States, and the NWSL was founded. “I feel like this [the NWSL] is very promising.” said the San Diego native on her new league. The NWSL brought in well-established clubs like Boston Breakers, Western New York Flash, Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars along with adding new clubs Portland Thorns FC, FC Kansas City, Seattle Reign FC and Washington Spirit. The inclusion of the U.S., Canadian and Mexican Federations meant that the new league would be able to keep their costs in-line while still employing some of the best talent in the world. While, not even Rome was built in a day, this league has come together in a relatively short time. “The level has gotten better in the last couple months, teams are starting to click, become dangerous and fun to watch.”

Robinson made a name for herself in the WPS making her transition to the NWSL a smooth one. When the NWSL formed, Robinson had the opportunity to sign with a team of her choice before the drafts began. More than one club had eyes on the star defender, but she chose FC Kansas City to call her new home. The opportunity to train with some of the best in the world was very appealing for Robinson. “We had a girl at camp ask us who is the best player we’ve played against and all of us said the girls we play with every day.” Playing next to FC Kansas City captain Becky Sauerbrunn and directly in front of United States Women’s National Team goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart is nothing short of a skill builder. Then, just to keep her on toes, she has to match up against MVP candidate Lauren Holiday in practice. The work has paid off though as Robinson is one of two iron women of FC Kansas City, meaning she has played every minute of every match for Kansas City this season.

The magnificent team chemistry makes for opportunities to grow as a player on and off the pitch. “I really truly feel like all of us are friends, we like hanging out together.” The team lives close to some Kansas City hot spots like Zona Rosa and The Plaza District, so finding things to do is easy for the group. Now in the Midwest, Robinson said the weather was a big change. “My biggest issue has been the humidity.” coming from sunny San Diego, it is easy to see why. The friends she has made and the skills she is gaining on the field outweigh the moisture in the air for Robinson.

Many experts around the NWSL argue that Robinson could be one to watch for when United States Women’s National Team call-ups are discussed. Splitting the center with Sauerbrunn, she anchors one of the most notorious and feared defenses in the league. Starting and finishing every match of the season this far should also be an indicator of how tough Robinson is. Even though she plays the backline, Robinson is still an offensive force. Just behind teammate Lauren Holiday, Robinson is among the top of the league with 5 assists this season. USWNT sights are a bit in the distance for Robinson, she wants to focus on what is in front of her: getting the inaugural championship for FC Kansas City. “I’ve gotten to the finals and I haven’t been able to stick that stake in.” With the victory over Boston on July 24th, at least for now, her side sits in first place and they have the track towards the playoffs. It has been a whirlwind of a year for Robinson; she has a championship within reach on a team she loves playing for and a possibility of playing for her country on the international stage. Leigh Ann Robinson is a wonderful example that hard work and big dreams do pay off.