By Celia Balf
The Chicago Red Stars sat high in the NWSL standings during the first part of the 2017 season, only to find themselves holding on for the fourth and final spot late in the year. In the NWSL semifinal against the North Carolina Courage, the Red Stars were edged 1-0. The loss came thanks to an 89th minute goal from Denise O’Sullivan, a ball that deflected off the leg of Julie Ertz. With two major additions to the squad in the offseason, adding Sam Kerr and Nikki Stanton from Sky Blue FC, Chicago is ready to rewrite their story this year after falling in the semifinal for the third straight year.
Thanks to their big blockbuster acquisition in Kerr, the Red Stars 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. Kerr and Australia are currently gearing up for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup (April 7-22), which serves as their qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, so Chicago will be without her for the first few weeks of the season.
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.
Coach: Rory Dames
Stadium: Toyota Park
Sam Kerr, forward
Nikki Stanton, midfielder
Rosie White, midfielder
Emily Boyd, goalkeeper
Christen Press, forward
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. 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.
By the Numbers
2017: 11-7-6, 4th place (Home: 7-3-2, Away: 4-4-4)
33 goals for (6th in the NWSL), 30 goals against (3rd)
Midfielder 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. In 2017, Naeher recorded six clean sheets and 64 saves in 22 games played. Her save percentage was 71.6%.
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 different attack in Chicago. With Sky Blue FC in 2017, Kerr directly contributed on 50% of Sky Blue’s 42 goals last season and her 21 points were second in league history to Kim Little’s 23 points (16 goals, 7 assists) in 2014. Five of her 17 goals were game-winners. She became the first player in NWSL history to score a deciding goal in the 90th minute or later in two consecutive games. (One of those late goals came against her new team, in a 2-2 draw on July 15.)
Head Coach Rory Dames
Games to Watch Chicago Red Stars vs. Houston Dash
Sunday, March 25 | go90 | 5 p.m. ET
Last year, the Chicago Stars opened up their regular-season campaign in similar style, 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 on goals from Kealia Ohai and Rachel Daly last year.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.
North Carolina Courage vs. Chicago Red Stars
Sunday, May 6 | go90 | 3 p.m. ET
This will be the first meeting between the two teams since last year’s NWSL semifinal when the Courage topped the Red Stars 1-0 to advance to the NWSL Championship.
In Focus January 19: Kerr to Chicago
By Jacqueline Purdy
“[Kerr] is a player that any team in the league would jump to get,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said in a Red Stars statement after the trade was made official. “She is a young and eager forward that has proven to be one of the best in the world. Then we get [Stanton], who for us can be a solid 6 or 8 and really push our current mix of players. We couldn’t be happier to have both Sam and Nikki in Chicago.”Read more
Roster (as of 3/19)
Rostered Players (21 of 20 spots filled)
Goalkeepers (2): Emily Boyd, Alyssa Naeher (FED-USA)
Federation Players (FED): 3
International Roster Spots Filled (INTL): 3