2018 preview: Chicago Red Stars
Chicago Red Stars added Kerr and Stanton to their roster this offseason
Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/ isiphotos.com
Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/ isiphotos.com

By Celia Balf

The Chicago Red Stars sat in a one-two position in the NWSL standings in the first part of the 2017 season, only to find themselves fighting for a number four spot in playoffs. In the NWSL semifinal against the North Carolina Courage, the Red Stars were edged by an 89th minute goal (1-0) from Denise O’Sullivan to send her team to the 2017 NWSL Championship game. With two major additions to the squad in the offseason, adding Sam Kerr and Nikki Sullivan from Sky Blue FC, plus six players from the 2018 NWSL College Draft, Chicago is ready to re-write their story this year.

Thanks to their big blockbuster signing in Kerr, the Spirit get to bask in one of their newest being picked in the 2018 NWSL GM and Media Surveys to be the league’s Golden Boot winner. Kerr also earned nods in both surveys as Best Forward and Best International Player.

The Chicago Red Stars begin their 2018 campaign on the road against Houston on March 25 and then open up at home at Toyota Park against the reigning 2017 NWSL champs, Portland Thorns FC on March 31.

Intro

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Buy tickets: Individual | Season | Group

Coach: Rory Dames

Stadium: Toyota Park

Key Additions

Sam Kerr

Nikki Stanton

Emily Boyd

Indigo Gibson

Bri Visalli

Key Departures

Christen Press

A three-way trade in the offseason between Chicago, Houston and Sky Blue FC landed the Red Stars Kerr, Stanton, and the 24th overall selection in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. Stanton and Kerr have playing history together both at Sky Blue and for Perth Glory in Australia’s W-League in NWSL’s offseason.  The rest of the exchange saw Chicago send Christen Press, their seventh-overall pick and an international spot to the Dash in an exchange for Carli Lloyd, Janine Beckie and two draft selections. This was then finalized with Lloyd, Beckie and Jen Hoy off to Sky Blue FC, and Kerr, Stanton to Chicago.

Rory Dames Games to Watch

Chicago Red Stars vs. Houston Dash

Sunday, March 25 | go90 | 5:00 p.m. ET

Last year, the Chicago Stars opened up their regular-season campaign in similar style also facing the Houston Dash away at BBVA Compass Stadium. This season, Chicago will look to open up with a different scoreline, after falling to the Dash 2-0 with goals from Kealia OHai and Rachel Daly on April 15, 2017. Chicago went on to later edge Houston in the second meeting between sides, with an own goal granted to Sarah Hagen and a Julie Ertz finish to make it 2-0 Chicago over Houston on May 6.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC

Saturday, March 31 | go90 | 8:15 p.m. ET

Chicago will have every imaginable reason to get up for this home opener against Portland. Last year, Portland held a 3-0 advantage over Chicago. Portland handed Chicago their first road loss of the season in 2017 (1-0) on April 29, and then their first home loss (3-2) four months later. The third meeting between the two teams was on September 30 where Portland again edged Chicago 3-1 to win the regular-season finale.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC

Saturday, April 21 | go90 | 8:00 p.m. ET

Sam Kerr will get to welcome her old team to Toyota Park which will surely draw in a crowd after Kerr had a standout year in 2017 in New Jersey. Kerr set a new NWSL record with four goals in a single game, and then broke another record for scoring the most goals in a season (17.) The reigning Golden Boot winner also is the NWSL’s all-time leading scorer with 43 to date.

By the Numbers

2017: 11-7-6, fourth place (Home: 7-3-2)

33 goals for, 20 goals against

Midfield Julie Ertz was a force in the midfield for the Red Stars in 2017. On top of scoring four goals and chipping in three assists last year, she also recorded 51 tackles won in her 22 games played. Where Ertz’s game really stands out is her ability to win the ball in 50/50 situations. Her air-time in 2017 resulted in 62 balls won. Another major presence in the midfield for Chicago in 2017 was Sofia Huerta who played in 24 games, scoring six goals and adding four assists. Huerta sits just below Ertz in tackles won (37) and aerial wins (36.)

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher has been the anchor to Chicago’s backline since first joining the team in 2015. Naeher was named NWSL goalkeeper of the year in 2014 for her record of 106 saves in 24 games with the Boston Breakers (Naeher was traded from the Breakers to Chicago in 2014.) In 2017, Naeher recorded six clean sheets, 64 saves in 22 games played. Her save percentage was 71.59%.

Sam Kerr didn’t waste any time in 2017, breaking league records left and right. Kerr now joins a new side and will look to build up a new attack in Chicago. With Sky Blue FC in 2017, Kerr scored 17 goals which was a league record for goals scored in a single-season. Her shooting accuracy was 59.34, and recorded 54 shots on target. Kerr can also take the praise for passing too. Last season she had four assists on the year which is tied to her passing accuracy at 65.67.

In Focus Kerr scores again in Australia’s wild win over Norway; Full Algarve Cup and Cyprus Cup results

By Jacqueline Purdy

Algarve Cup Day 1 Results 

Australia 4 Norway 3

Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr scored in her seventh consecutive game for Australia, a new team record, as the Matildas opened up their Algarve Cup campaign with a 4-3 win. Australia led 3-1 before Norway came back to tie it 3-3 in the 61st minute. Australia’s Larissa Crummer won the game in the 95th minute. Utah Royals FC forward Elise Thorsnes scored twice for Norway. Highlights

Read more

Roster (as of 3/6)

Goalkeepers (4): Emily Boyd (CDP), Michele Dalton, Alyssa Naeher (NYR), Ryann Torerro (NRI)

Defenders (8): Taylor Comeau, Chandra Eigenberger (NRI), Indigo Gibson (CDP/NYR), Arin Gilliland, Zoey Goralski (CDP), Sarah Gorden, Sam Johnson, Katie Naughton, Casey Short (NYR)

Midfielders (14): Alexa Ben (CDP), Joanna Boyles (CDP), Megan Buckingham (CDP), Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Julie Ertz (NYR), Lauren Kaskie, Alyssa Mautz, Ashton Miller (CDP/NYR), Christina Murillo (NRI), Nikki Stanton, Michele Vasconcelos, Bri Visalli (CDP), Rosie White (NYR), Erin Yenney (NRI)

Forwards (5): Summer Green, Sofia Huerta (NYR), Sam Kerr (NYR), Stephanie McCaffrey, Yuki Nagasato

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