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Red Stars: New Season, New Blood

Press joins from Tyresö after leading Swedish league in scoring in 2013, while adding a boatload of youth national-team players through draft-day deals

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Chicago Red Stars have announced their preseason roster, it is time to have a look and see who is new with the team this year. The team hopes to improve from their sixth-place finish last year with some key additions to the roster.

The offseason started with the allocation process of national team players which gave the Red Stars Christen Press and allowed the team to keep Shannon Boxx, Amy LePeilbet, Erin McLeod, Adriana Leon and Rachel Quon. Christen Press, a 25-year-old forward, is a member of the U.S. National Team and joins the league from Sweden, where she led the league in goals. Press will not hook up with Red Stars until summer, though, as her club in Sweden (Tyresö FF) is still involved in the UEFA Women's Champions League knockout stages.

Then the Red Stars acquired a couple of quality, experienced players via trades. They traded their second-round pick in the 2015 NWSL College Draft for 33 year-old goalie Karina LeBlanc, who stood out for Thorns FC as they won the title last year. For a team that allowed 36 goals - second worst in the league - LeBlanc should be a good addition.

This move was made necessary by the Red Stars trading their starting goalie, Erin McLeod, to Houston for forward Melissa Tancredi, a Canadian International. Tancredi took the year off last year but has experience in Sweden and in the W-League. Here's her scoring against the USA in 2012, much to everyone's chagrin.

Strong draft class incoming

The team also continued to rebuild through the college draft, understandably, as Chicago had two of the first four picks. With the third overall pick, the team took Julie Johnston from Santa Clara University. The 22-year-old midfielder captained the US Under-20 World Cup team in 2012, won the bronze ball as the third best player in the tournament and won U.S. Soccer's Young Female Athlete of the Year in the same year.

Then with the fourth overall pick, the Red Stars took another midfielder in Naperville native Vanessa DiBernardo from the University of Illinois. DiBernardo is a member of the U.S. U-23 Women's National Team. She led University of Illinois in goals in 2010, 2011 and 2012, which put her third on the school's all-time list while being the school's career leader in assists and tied for most career shots.

The team wrapped up the draft by selecting Hayley Brock, a forward from the University of Maryland with the 22nd overall pick. She was Maryland's leader in points scored for three straight seasons and was a member of the U.S. U-18 National Team pool. Judging by the following highlights package - which has Brock's Maryland in action against new teammate Julie Johnston and Santa Clara - Brock is a Drogba-esque power forward.

Then the Red Stars traded their 11th overall pick for defender Casey Short of the Boston Breakers and their third-round pick in the 2015 draft. Short was drafted as the fifth pick of the 2013 draft, but missed her entire first season with an ACL injury. Also originally from Naperville, Short went to Florida State and was a member of the U.S. U-23 team.

The new additions will bring a good blend of veteran experience to the team and promising youngsters. The team was only eight points out of first place and hope to improve on their results. The Red Stars will start their preseason on April 2 versus Notre Dame; the regular season kicks off on April 19 versus the Western New York Flash.

Thoughts on the Red Stars moves? Going to any games this year?