Chicago Red Stars
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Chicago Red Stars are a professional women's soccer club based in Bridgeview, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. They are a founding member of the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league, and have competed in the NWSL since 2013.
|Majority owner||Arnim Whisler|
|Head coach||Rory Dames|
|League||National Women's Soccer League|
|2020||Regular season and playoffs: Canceled|
Challenge Cup: Runners-up
Fall Series: 6th of 9
The Red Stars were a founding member of WPS, the NWSL's predecessor as the professional women's soccer league in the United States, and they played in the WPS in 2009 and 2010. After leaving the WPS in December 2010 due to the league's financial issues, the Red Stars joined the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) for the 2011 season. In 2012, the Red Stars cofounded and competed in Women's Premier Soccer League Elite (WPSL-E), a one-year league that bridged the WPS and the NWSL. In 2012, the Red Stars became a founding member of the NWSL, which was financially supported by US Soccer.
Women's Professional Soccer (WPS)Edit
In 2006, it was announced that Chicago would have a team in a new league being developed for women's professional soccer. It would eventually join the six other teams, Washington Freedom, Boston Breakers, Los Angeles Sol, FC Gold Pride, Sky Blue FC, and Saint Louis Athletica in Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) for the league's inaugural season in 2009.
On June 3, 2008, the "Red Stars" name was announced in a ceremony at Toyota Park. The name refers to the four six-pointed red stars on the municipal flag of Chicago. Each star represents a landmark event in Chicago history: Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire, the 1893 World's Fair, and the 1933 World's Fair. Other names considered were Progress, Towers, Union, Blues, 1871, and Wind. "Red Stars" was chosen by popular vote in a two-month fan ballot.
2009 inaugural seasonEdit
The Chicago Red Stars won their first game of the season, 1–0, at Saint Louis Athletica, and followed with two ties (1–1 at Washington Freedom and 0–0 hosting Sky Blue FC) and a 4–0 thrashing of Boston Breakers at Toyota Park. This gave the team the best starting record of any team in the league besides eventual season champions Los Angeles Sol, seeming to live up to preseason expectations based on the strong core of USWNT and international players on the Red Stars roster.
Despite their strong start, the Red Stars then went winless for their next nine games, only getting three away draws in that streak, which included a 451-minute-long scoring drought. Their opponents, the Washington Freedom, scored first in the next game, and it appeared the streak would continue. However, the Red Stars made WPS history by becoming the first team to successfully come from behind, to win 2–1. They also beat cellar-dwellers FC Gold Pride in their next game 3–1, but then lost four of their last five games, eliminating them from the playoffs as they ended the season in sixth place. The Red Stars finished second in attendance in the league in 2009, behind the LA Sol.
True to his agreement to see the Red Stars organization through its first season, Peter Wilt chose to step down as team CEO at the end of 2009, moving on to become general manager of the Milwaukee Wave, the NISL team in his hometown. General Manager Marcia McDermott took on many of his responsibilities at the Red Stars, although he continued to support the team as one of its representatives on the Women's Professional Soccer Board of Governors and as President of the Chicago Red Stars Charitable Foundation.
The Red Stars opened up their second season with high hopes and many new faces. In their first game, the Red Stars lost 1–0 at Sky Blue FC despite dominating much of the game. A 1–1 home tie in their second game earned the Stars their first point of the 2010 season.
After a successful 2010, the team left WPS on December 13 because they were unable to meet the league's funding requirements for the 2011 season, and the league subsequently folded in 2011 for financial and legal reasons.
Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL)Edit
The Red Stars joined the Women's Premier Soccer League in 2011. They played their home games at Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex in west suburban Chicago.
The new roster consisted of players from the WNT U-20 and U-23 pools, as well as collegiate stars. The first players announced included three players with WPS experience, including two from the Red Stars' 2010 squad. It was coached by Rory Dames, a Chicago native. Red Stars also continued their activity in the Chicago soccer community through their soccer camp programs.
Red Stars finished the regular season with a 10–1 record and hosted the playoff semifinals and championship matches. While they beat Tampa Bay Hellenic 2–1 in their semifinal, they lost in overtime by the same score in the final to the Orange County Waves, another WPSL team that has past WPS connections (Brittany Klein, a Red Stars player from 2009 and 2010, was on the Waves).
Women's Premier Soccer League Elite (WPSLE)Edit
In 2012, the Red Stars joined two other former WPS clubs, the Boston Breakers and Western New York Flash, in founding the new WPSL Elite League. Five other former WPSL teams joined the league, including ASA Chesapeake Charge, FC Indiana, New England Mutiny, New York Fury, and Philadelphia Fever.
The Red Stars finished fourth in the league, making the playoffs, and advanced to the final, where they lost to Flash in a 2–4 penalty shootout, after a 1–1 draw at the end of extra time. Notably in that game, Stars Ella Masar and Lori Chalupny were injured on the same play in the 33rd minute. WNY scored the equalizer in regulation with a 40-yard wonder strike in the 97th minute to get to overtime. Impressively, the Red Stars also won the 2012 National Women's Cup with just half the roster, as the Cup final occurred at the same time as their final WPSL Elite regular season match against eventual third-placed New York Fury.
National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)Edit
In November 2012, the Red Stars cofounded and was one of the original eight teams in a new women's professional soccer league, then yet to be named, in concert with United States Soccer Federation, the Canadian Soccer Association, and the Mexican Football Federation. The league started competition in the spring of 2013.
All teams in the NWSL received an initial allocation of USWNT players, and the Red Stars were named for Shannon Boxx, Amy LePeilbet, and Keelin Winters. Only Shannon Boxx saw limited minutes for the Red Stars in 2013. In the inaugural season of NWSL, Red Stars started with 2 draws and 4 losses. The mid-season arrival of two Germans, Sonja Fuss and Inka Grings, revived the team somewhat, but not enough to qualify for the post-season playoffs. Red Stars played 22 matches with 8 wins, 6 draws, and 8 losses to finish the season at sixth place in an eight-team league.
In 2014, the Red Stars finished one place better than they had previously, fifth place in the regular season. This season, the club was waiting for United States international Christen Press to join after completing her commitment to a European club, and the Canadian international Melissa Tancredi to gain full fitness after her education. Besides these two, the team signed two other internationals, Abby Erceg and Emily van Egmond in May. Despite the late arrival of international stars, at the end of May, the team had 6 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses — a competitive team performance enabled by rookies Julie Johnston, Vanessa DiBernardo, Hayley Brock, young players Jen Hoy, Rachel Quon, and veteran stalwarts Lori Chalupny, Michelle Wenino, and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc. With a mid-season slump of 1 win in 11 matches during June and July, the team eventually did not qualify for post-season playoffs, edged out by head-to-head results with Washington Spirit.
The Red Stars started the 2015 season with three home games: a 3–2 win over the previous season's Supporting Shield winner Seattle Reign FC, a 2–2 draw with Portland Thorns FC, and a 1–0 win over Sky Blue FC. Christen Press scored 4 of the first 5 goals for the Red Stars, which led to Press being named the Player of the Month for April. Members of the Red Stars who were also members of the national team were out training for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in weeks 5 and 6. During this time, rookie Sofia Huerta scored multiple goals in 2 matches and was named NWSL Player of the Week for weeks 5 and 6, and was also named NWSL Player of the Month of May. The team held first place during the regular season from week 4 to week 13; they finished second overall. In the playoffs, he team lost in the semi-final to FC Kansas City.
The team ended the regular season in third place and advanced to the play-offs. They played the semi-final at Boyds, Maryland against the Washington Spirit on September 30, falling 2–1. This season the Red Stars returned to Toyota Park for home games for the first time since their 2010 season the Women's Professional Soccer league.
In 2017, for the third consecutive season, the Red Stars made it to the post-season playoffs and were eliminated in the semi-final; falling 1–0 to North Carolina Courage at Cary, North Carolina on an 89-minute goal.
2018 was the team's tenth season and sixth season in the NWSL. For the fourth consecutive year, the team qualified for the post-season playoffs and lost in the semi-final, as they were defeated by the North Carolina Courage 2–0.
The 2019 season saw the Red Stars appear in the finals for the first time in NWSL history. The team clinched their 5th consecutive playoff spot on September 21, 2019 after defeating the Washington Spirit 3–1. That game also saw forward Sam Kerr score her 18th goal of the season, breaking the record for most goals scored in a single NWSL season, which she had previously set playing with Sky Blue FC in 2017. The Red Stars went on to defeat the Portland Thorns 1–0 in a semi-final home game, and were defeated in the final by the North Carolina Courage 4–0. They finished as the season's runners-up with a 14 win, 2 draw, 8 loss record.
Crest and coloursEdit
The original primary logo combines two heraldic Chicago images: the shape of the shield is taken from its equivalent inside the city of Chicago's official seal. The colors, stripes, and stars in the logo are all inspired by the symbolism of Chicago's municipal flag, with the blue stripes representing the two branches of the Chicago River. The six points on the large red star in the center of the Chicago Red Stars logo also have their own meaning to the team:
- Entertainment (top point)
- Service (next point moving clockwise)
Adrenalin, Inc. and visual partnered to jointly develop the Red Stars original identity.
The primary and secondary logo were updated at the beginning of the 2018 season by the front office with a collaborative design team headed by Julie Rochelle.
During the team's membership in Women's Professional Soccer, the Chicago Red Stars played at Toyota Park, now known as SeatGeek Stadium, a world-class soccer-specific stadium with 20,000 seats. It is best known as having been home to Chicago Fire FC from 2006 to 2019.
From 2011 to 2015, in Women's Premier Soccer League, Women's Premier Soccer League Elite league and National Women's Soccer League, The Red Stars played their matches at the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex. The university stadium seats 3,000.
In the 2012 season, in the WPSL-Elite league some matches were played at Concordia University Chicago Athletic Complex in River Forest, Illinois as well as the Lakeside Athletic Field at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois due to renovation construction at Benedictine University.
The Chicago Professional Women's Soccer, LLC investor and partner group owned the Chicago Red Stars from 2009 to 2010 during the team's membership in Women's Professional Soccer. In April 2010, the team's management group consisted of Gary Weaver, Jim Willett, and Arnim Whisler. The Illinois Women's Soccer League (IWSL) also signed on as a partner.
In addition to the IWSL, the team's leadership included shareholders John (Jack) Cummins, Robert and Susan Morrison, Jim and Kathi Willett, Dale Weaver, Gary Weaver, Pin Ni, Dong Li, Arnim Whisler, Dean Egerter, Stephen Ritchie and Peter Wilt.
WPSL (2011), WPSL E (2012), and NWSL (2013–2020)Edit
Arnim Whisler took over the team after the 2010 season, and continued to operate the team for the 2011 season in the WPSL, while helping to reorganize the WPS. He remained the sole owner until 2021.
On March 1, 2021, the Chicago Red Stars announced a new ownership group led by co-founder and majority owner Arnim Whisler and his family. Besides Whisler, the ownership group is led by founding members Dean Egerter and Steve Ritchie and includes additional members Jessie Becker, Julie Haddon, Israel Idonije, Jordan Levin, Abel Lezcano, Colleen Mares, Michael Raimondi, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Michael Schofield, Sarah Spain, Marie Tillman, Brian Walsh, Kevin Willer, and David M. Zapata.
On April 17, 2019, it was announced that NBC Sports Chicago would serve as the Red Stars' new regional broadcaster, televising all regular-season matches (beginning with their second match of the 2019 season). Seven matches in the 2019 season will be carried on its overflow channel NBC Sports Chicago Plus.
Team standing and statisticsEdit
|League||WPSL CRS RESERVES|
|2012||WPSL E||14||9||1||4||26||11||28||4th||Runners-Up ||Winners|
Players and coachesEdit
- As of April 9, 2021.
- As of February 10, 2020.
|Head coach||Rory Dames|
|Assistant coach||Scott Parkinson|
|Assistant coach||Julianne Sitch|
|Goalkeeper Coach||Rade Tanaskovic|
Top scorers (NWSL)Edit
Bold denotes active players.
Notable former playersEdit
Former members of the team who have represented a senior national team are:
- NWSL Championship
- Runners-up (1): 2019
- NWSL Challenge Cup
- Runners-up (1): 2020
- USASA National Women's Cup
- Winners (1): 2012
|Year||League||Team MVP||Golden Boot[c]||Defender of the Year||Reference|
|2013||NWSL||Lori Chalupny||Lori Chalupny||5||Sonja Fuss|||
|2014||NWSL||Lori Chalupny||Christen Press||6||Julie Johnston|||
|2015||NWSL||Christen Press||Christen Press||10||Julie Johnston|||
|2016||NWSL||Christen Press||Christen Press||8||Julie Johnston|||
|2017||NWSL||Julie Ertz||Christen Press||11||Casey Short|
|2018||NWSL||Sam Kerr||Sam Kerr||16||Katie Naughton|||
- In 2010, only 7 teams finished the season.
- The Chicago Red Stars competed in the North Division of the Midwest Conference in the WPSL. Six teams were in this division for the 2011 season.
- Golden Boot is the team leader in goals (regular season games only).
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