The Chicago Red Stars are the women’s team based in Chicago. Here is a newbie’s guide of the organisation and a preview of their 2019 NWSL campaign.
As part of the coverage of Chicago soccer, I want to make sure that I take the time to cover both professional soccer teams in this great city. While the Chicago Fire have gotten plenty of attention on this blog, I’m hoping to add coverage of the women’s side that plays at SeatGeek Stadium, the Chicago Red Stars.
Some of you may already have a vague knowledge of the Chicago Red Stars or may even already follow them, but I feel like there may still be a large number of people who don’t know about this amazing club. Since we’re still in the preseason, I want to give a quick overview on the Red Stars, their competition, and their chances in the NWSL so you can be as prepared as almost any other Red Stars fan for the coming 2019 season.
So, here is a newbie’s guide to the Chicago Red Stars and a look ahead to the coming campaign.
Chicago Red Stars history
The Chicago Red Stars were first created in 2006 when it was announced that Chicago would be getting an inaugural team in the brand new Women’s Professional Soccer league. In 2008, they were given the Red Stars name as a reference to the four six-pointed stars on the Chicago flag. They began play in the WPS inaugural season in 2009 with a line-up that featured USWNT stars Carli Lloyd and Lindsay Tarpley, Brazilian star Christiane, English star Karen Carney, first-round draft pick Megan Rapinoe, and were led by coach Emma Hayes. They finished that season fairly poorly, only getting 20 points out of 20 games. The 2010 season was not any better, seeing a lot of turnover and minimal improvement in results.
After the 2010 season, the Chicago Red Stars were unable to meet a payment deadline to stay in the WPS, which would eventually fold before a 2012 season could take place. Instead, the Red Stars opted to move down to the Women’s Premier Soccer League for the 2011 season. They came in with almost a completely new roster and received a new coach in Rory Dames, who is still the coach to this day. The 2011 season was a massive success, seeing the team finish with only a single loss; sadly, they lost in the playoff finals. The 2012 season involved a move to the WPSL-Elite, where they once again lost in the finals. This time, they did win the U.S. Women’s Open Cup, which was the first and only time they participated in it.
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The National Women’s Soccer League was founded in late 2012 and the Chicago Red Stars were one of the teams from the WPSL to be added to the league in its first season. This meant that the Red Stars once again became a part of the official professional top-tier of professional women’s soccer in America. This also meant that they would be moving back up from the amateur limbo they were in and were re-allocated national team players. The 2013 season ended with the Red Stars on the outside of the playoff picture, but they were back on top.
The 2014 season was a bit of a major turning point in the club in terms of visibility, seeing the addition of USWNT stars Christen Press and Julie Johnston (now Julie Ertz), and Canadian WNT goalkeeper Karina Leblanc. While missing the playoffs once again, the Red Stars did play a doubleheader with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park (now SeatGeek Stadium). The Red Stars would still continue to play in Lisle at Benedictine University in the 2015 season, making the playoffs only to be defeated at Toyota Park again by FC Kansas City. They would eventually move into Toyota Park completely in the 2016 season, with Christen Press and Sofia Huerta sharing the goal-scoring work over both the 2015 and 2016 seasons being the main attraction for new fans. The Red Stars would make the playoffs once again in 2016, losing again in the first round. And pretty much the same thing happened again in 2017.
Where things change are over the offseason going into the 2018 season, when the Red Stars traded star striker Christen Press in a three-team trade involving Press being traded to Houston, USWNT star Carli Lloyd moving from Houston to Sky Blue FC, and NWSL and W-League record-breaker Sam Kerr moving from Sky Blue FC to Chicago. The 2018 campaign would end in a familiar manner, losing in the first round of the NWSL Playoffs.
Here are some important names throughout the history of the club:
Arnim Whistler: Owner of the team, great on Twitter.
Peter Wilt: Founded the club and helped run it the first season, also good on Twitter.
Rory Dames: Long-Time coach, still the coach, still good on Twitter.
Megan Rapinoe: First draft pick, currently plays for Portland, solid Twitter.
Lindsay Tarpley: Former captain, I feel like I should stop mentioning Twitter.
Lori Chalupny: Former captain, currently the only player to have her number retired.
Alyssa Mautz: Most club appearances, still on the team.
Christen Press: Most goals for the club, currently playing for Utah Royals.
Sofia Huerta: Second-most goals for the club, currently playing for Houston Dash.
Yuki Nagasato: The current starting number 10 and one of the key players of the team.