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Red Stars Clean Up At The 2016 NWSL College Draft

CRS add seven players to the roster with a focus on defensive depth

WGN-TV produced a special some years ago called Bozo, Gar and Ray: WGN TV Classics that served as a sort of oral history of the station’s celebrated history of children’s programming. The special, which airs every year around the holidays, focused primarily on Bozo the Clown. There was a clip which doesn’t appear to be online that features a young girl participating in the Grand Prize Game on the Bozo show. She kept leaving her mark and dropping her ball into the buckets, even after Bozo patiently explained that she had to stay behind the line and throw. (Eventually Joey D'Auria was too overcome with giggles to hold it together.) The young girl "finished" the game by dropping a ball in the last bucket, walking over to the table full of prizes, moving them to a Radio Flyer wagon nearby, and then making off with the entire haul. It was priceless.

That’s basically what the Red Stars did today at the NWSL College Draft.

Through various wheeling and dealing before and during the draft, the Red Stars managed to walk away from the draft with seven players through four rounds of picks. Of the 10 picks made in the fourth and final round, five of them were made by Chicago.

Chicago did not make any first-round picks, and at first glance the selections seem to be geared toward depth and filling holes left by the departures of prominent 2015 stars such as captain Lori Chalupny and Abby Erceg. Like their MLS housemates, the Red Stars appear to be staking their 2016 fortunes on youth. Unlike the Fire, the Red Stars are coming off a highly successful season and the influx of rookies represents more of a retooling than a gut rehab.

The new additions to the Red Stars are:

- Notre Dame defender Katie Naughton. The 19th overall pick captained the women’s team at Notre Dame for three years and started every single game of her college career.

- DePaul defender Sarah Gorden. Made the NSCAA All-Northeast Region Women’s Soccer First Team in 2014 and 2015.

- Kentucky midfielder Courtney Raetzman. Had strong junior and senior years after missing much of her sophomore season due to an MCL injury. Also a Chicago area native.

- Illinois forward Janelle Flaws. Leaves UI as the school’s all-time leading goalscorer.

- Northern Colorado defender Adrienne Jordan. 2015 Big Sky Defensive MVP.

- Missouri defender Candace Johnson. Named to the 2015 All-SEC first team.

- Arkansas forward Ashleigh Ellenwood. Played for the U-23 WNT in 2014.

All seven pick-ups read as savvy moves by the Red Stars, and the added defensive depth will surely help shore up a somewhat leaky back line. If Chicago can add to their impressive draft haul with one or two midfield additions and possibly some extra firepower up top, they should enter the 2016 season as early title contenders.