COLUMBIA — Missouri sophomore defensive back Candace Johnson walked off the field carrying her stuffed monkey, Felipe, in her arms with a smile on her face.
The Tigers had just lost a scrimmage to FC Kansas City 5-0 at Audrey J. Walton Stadium. Maybe if Missouri had just lost a regular season game by that margin, Johnson would be more somber. But in spring, learning is all that matters. Playing against a professional soccer team provided plenty of lessons.
"Communicate faster, play faster (and do) everything faster, pretty much," Johnson said. "Make sure we don't get frustrated at each other even if it's a frustrating situation."
The scoreboard wasn't turned on, which set the mood on the field as a gauge more than a game. A woman power-walking around the track encircling the field could be treated as a timer. One lap by the pink-socked lady on the track seemed to equal one more goal for FC Kansas City on the field.
FC Kansas City midfielder Jen Buczkowski was responsible for three of those goals on the night. The 28-year old Notre Dame alumnus is on a roster full of experienced players, including Erika Tymrak, the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 for Florida.
It didn't take long for Missouri freshman midfielder Melanie Donaldson to notice that their difference in age was less palpable than the difference in speed, knowledge and strength.
"It's pretty nuts," Donaldson said. "I didn't realize the importance of it at first. I'm honored to be able to say I went up against these people."
This is the second year FC Kansas City scrimmaged against Missouri. FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski thinks the scrimmage is beneficial for both teams, especially for Missouri's freshmen and FC Kansas City's rookies.
FC Kansas City opens its 2014 season on April 19.
"We have some new players," Andonovski said. "It will take some time for them to get into the mix. But overall, I think it was a good matchup for both FC Kansas City to see where we're at and for Mizzou. It was also a good game for them to see some of their players who maybe didn't play as much during the season."
Andonovski is always looking for college players with potential to come play for his team after graduation. Missouri junior midfielder Kaysie Clark is among the players Andonovski has his eyes on. Andonovski said Clark has come to practice with FC Kansas City. But Missouri's focus as a team doesn't extend past the 2014 season.
"We form habits," Johnson said. "Things we learn to do now, we'll make sure we do them in the fall, too."
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.