The Chicago Red Stars are that team that always gets to the playoffs but never gets to the finals. They have historically had one of the top midfields in the league, but when push comes to shove, they always wilt in the biggest moments of the season.
This offseason saw some big moves, including the departure of longtime players like Jen Hoy and Christen Press and the arrival of some new names—Sam Kerr most famously. That might finally give the Red Stars the push they need to make it to the big dance.
Head Coach: Rory Dames
2017 record: 11-6-7 (39 points), fourth in the league
Projected Starting XI:
Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher
Defenders: Arin Gilliland, Katie Naughton, Sam Johnson, Casey Short
Midfielders: Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Julie Ertz
Forwards: Yūki Nagasato, Sofia Huerta, Sam Kerr
Player you should know: Sam Kerr. While she is brand new to the Red Stars, she is well known to fans of the league, or of the women’s game in general. She’s arguably the best in the world right now, so watch for her to make a big and immediate impact on the team as soon as she hits the pitch.
Under the radar: Danielle Colaprico. Colaprico is the type of player that makes everyone around her better. She does all of the little things right, and occasionally pitches in on the big things, too. Without her the Red Stars would be a little dimmer.
Biggest offseason acquisition: Sam Kerr, by far.
Biggest rival: FC Kansas City had been the historical and geographical rival of the Red Stars. But when it comes to playoffs, the Red Stars have bad blood with both the Washington Spirit and the North Carolina Courage. After beating North Carolina repeatedly during the regular season, they fell just short in the playoffs, in a very physical game. Look out for the Red Stars-Courage matchup to feature some hard-fought games this year.
Most memorable moment from 2017: Losing to North Carolina Courage in the 89th minute in the semifinals.
Why they’re the team to watch in 2018: The Red Stars have made the semifinals for the last three years. Adding Sam Kerr, Nikki Stanton, and some solid contributors in the college and dispersal drafts should put them near the top of the contender’s list.
Predicted finish: Second, behind the North Carolina Courage.
Success depends on: Three things need to go right for the Red Stars in 2018 to get them in the playoffs. 1) They need to make sure Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo and USWNT star Julie Ertz stay healthy and in control of the midfield. 2) Sam Kerr needs the support to let her flourish. 3) The back line need to find the same page as Alyssa Naeher and stay there.
Fun prediction: Julie Ertz will lead the NWSL in goals off of headers in 2018.