Jen Buczkowski: The Unsung Hero
by: Lindsey Daley,Special contributor to FCKansasCity.com
The role of defensive midfielder is an essential one for FC Kansas City and soccer teams around the world. The position, just in front of the defenders and right behind attacking midfielders, does not receive enough credit…and neither do the players that fill it. That’s fine by Jen Buczkowski, “I think that’s part of the role, you know? We’re there to do the dirty work.” The 28-year-old who is often called “Buzz” still loves her spot on the field, even if it goes unnoticed at times. The line of defensive midfielders covers the most ground, being the first ones back on defense and also key offensive play makers.
After playing for Notre Dame from 2003-2007, Buczkowski was drafted by Sky Blue FC for the 2009 season of Women’s Professional Soccer league. She made 16 appearances for the club that later went on to win the national championship. The expansion draft would lead Buczkowski to Philadelphia to play for the Independence. Buczkowski played every minute of every match for Philadelphia in 2011. The WPS folded in early 2012, so Buczkowski went back to her hometown of Chicago to play for the Red Stars in the Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite. Early 2013 would see the start of the National Women’s Soccer League. “I think the league has definitely improved with the help of U.S. Soccer too.” Buczkowski signed with FC Kansas City on February 5, 2013 and headed down to Kansas City.
Buczkowski anchors a crucial spot in the field with Canadian National Team player, Desiree Scott. The two are opposites on and off the field, but balance each other perfectly. Scott is a bold player earning her “The Destroyer” nickname. Buczkowski is down to earth and a very strategy-minded player. Scott and Buczkowski can be seen making plays on both ends of the field. Clearing the ball away from in front of goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, is where you can usually find the very dynamic duo. Buczkowski credits head coach Vlatko Andonovski with refining her playing style. “We’re one of the teams in the league that likes to step out of the back.” The push forward strategy has earned Buczkowski two assists for the season and is currently one of two players who have played every minute for Kansas City this season.
FC Kansas City was the first team to score a goal in the history of the NWSL and this first to secure a playoff spot. Those big accomplishments have not changed this humble team and Buczkowski thinks that is what sets the ‘Blues’ apart. “I think we have that Midwest, blue-collar mentality. We’re willing to work hard and our team chemistry is great.” Buczkowski and the rest of FC Kansas City have continuously surprised people across the country from the depth of the bench to the amount of talent in each player. The roster did not boast tons of big names, nor did the club have an extensive history. It was the perfect setting for a dark horse story.
Some teams in the NWSL would be ecstatic over a playoff spot, let alone the first, Buczkowski and the ‘Blues’ are not satisfied…yet. The team sees a playoff spot as another step towards the real goal: winning the championship. FC Kansas City has two more games before the playoffs start. The ‘Blues’ have the league’s longest running undefeated streak at 10 games and a four-point lead in the standings. A win on Saturday against the Boston Breakers would clinch the top spot in the NWSL’s Inaugural Regular Season. That’s not enough for Buczkowski and her teammates. “Finishing first in the regular season is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the championship.” That same hard work mentality is what makes Jen Buczkowski a strong force on the field; it is time for this unsung hero and her team to be the talk of the town.