Natasha Kai joins NWSL's Washington Spirit

Former American star Natasha Kai is hoping for a comeback. Kai, 29, was picked by the Washington Spirit of the NWSL this week. Photo: Natasha Kai, Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. February 7, 2013 —She was once a key striker on the U.S. national team winning an Olympic Gold medal until serious injuries sidelined her. Now, Natasha Kai is hoping for a comeback. Kai, 29, was picked by the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League in the round 4, and 25th overall in the NWSL Supplemental Draft this week.

At one time, Kai was a regular on the U.S. women’s national team. From 2006-2009 she scored 24 goals in 64 games but a recurring shoulder injury, and then a knee injury, put her career in jeopardy.

According to a press release from the Spirit, Kai is nearly recovered from a knee injury, and is expected to be available by, or soon after, the start of the NWSL season.

The free-spirited Kai, who hails from Hawaii, has an unmistakable look, with a ring in her lower lip and boasts over 15 large tattoos. The most notable tattoo runs down her right arm and features tribal markings, Hawaiian flowers and the names of all the members of her family.

“This is me, it’s my personality,” Kai told the me in an interview in 2006. “Yes, I’m different. I like tattoos, but I’m still a soccer player. I’m still an American.”
Like Brian Ching, her Hawaiian counterpart at the Houston Dynamo, Kai is a big, physical forward.

She won a title in the Women’s Professional Soccer title in 2009 with Sky Blue FC and spent the 2011 season with the Philadelphia Independence. Kai is also an accomplished been rugby player.

Kai stared at the University of Hawaii, scoring 72 goals in 73 games. She broke her shoulder in her last college game and missed all of 2005. In May, Kai will be inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.

And Kai is not the only famous person in her family. Her father Benny, is a well renowned singer at the Polynesian Cultural Center, a major tourist attraction in Oahu. Her father was recently in the news defending Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in the scandal over a relations online with a nonexistent woman.

John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon

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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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