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Casey Short gets some overdue recognition ahead of the Red Stars’ playoff semifinal

Short was named a finalist for NWSL Defender of the Year; she deserves it, and more

Soccer: International Friendly Women's Soccer-New Zealand at USA Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This week the NWSL announced the Finalists for the 2017 NWSL awards. Five total categories for MVP, Coach, Rookie, Defender, and Goal Keeper of the year had Chicago represented in four of the Finalist awards.

Coach of the Year

Rory Dames

Goalkeeper of the Year

Alyssa Naeher

Defender of the Year

Casey Short


Christen Press

Golden Boot

Sky Blue FC Forward Samantha Kerr has already been awarded the Golden Boot for 2017. Scoring 17 goals and breaking a record once set by Kim Little with Seattle Reign FC. All remaining finalist awards are voted on by coaches, players, and media. Fans were allowed to participate in a fan vote (accounted for 20% of the total vote) and winners will be announced throughout October.

2017 NWSL Awards - Announcement Schedule:

Monday, Oct. 2: Golden Boot

Tuesday, Oct. 10: Second XI

Thursday, Oct. 12: Best XI

Monday, Oct. 16: Coach of the Year

Tuesday, Oct. 17: Rookie of the Year

Wednesday, Oct. 18: Goalkeeper of the Year

Thursday, Oct. 19: Defender of the Year

Friday, Oct. 20: MVP

Just had a growth spurt

Defender of the year candidate Casey Short was recently named to the NWSL team of the month for September for the fourth time this season. She is only one of two players to be named to the Best Team four times this season along with North Carolina Courage Midfielder, Samantha Mewis.

Short, who is in her second season with the Red Stars, has become a staple on Chicago’s backline. The outside back has been able to dominate the left flank this season. Getting involved in the offensive attack for the Red Stars, while still being able to maintain her defensive responsibilities, Short’s significance isn’t lost on her teammates and coaches with Rory Dames saying:

“I think Casey’s confidence, since the first day in camp last year, to where she is this year? Has grown leaps and bounds. Her 1 v 1 defending is exceptional. I don’t know if there is a better 1 v 1 defender in the league out in wide spaces. Because she’s so good at defending in those spaces, we’re able to do some different things on her side. Her ability and possession has gradually improved, and I think will only continue to get it better the more she’s in now with the [U.S.] Full Team and playing with those kinds of players and with those expectations.”

Game Changer

Short’s stealthy ability to leave an impact on the game before you realized what happened has proven an asset this season, especially in one of Chicago’s more important matches where they clinched a playoff berth against the Houston Dash. Coach Dames praises her work ethic and credits the victory to Short’s effective play, saying:

“The game that we actually finally got ourselves into the playoffs this year in [Houston], She scored a goal, she set up a goal, and she drew a PK for the other goal. So, I know she was overlooked for all the player of the week awards and that stuff that week, but I don’t know if there are a lot of other left backs in the league creating 3 goals for their team – especially in game with that amount of significance in it.”

After clinching a playoff spot and closing out the regular season at Portland, Chicago find themselves returning to the semifinals this Sunday against shield winners North Carolina Courage. At the start of this season, Short expressed her desire to bring a championship with her teammates to the city she calls home, saying:

“I 100 percent think that we can go further this year. We have such a great core group of players - we ended last year disappointed and we don’t want to end on that note again.”

All roads lead to Chicago

After battling back from various injuries, the 2016 season was Short’s first full season in the NWSL, and her consistent play in the league earned her call ups into National Team camps. By the time the 2017 began, the dynamic defender returned as a U.S. allocated player to her hometown Chicago. The Naperville native has had a special journey to get back to the NWSL and on the U.S. national team, and it’s her story that makes her such an easy player to throw your support behind. Coach Dames echoes the sentiment, saying:

“My favorite thing about Casey in this whole process and all the way through is - she never lost herself. She’s extremely humble. She’s extremely team oriented. One of the sweetest people that you’ll meet. And because of the road that she had to take to get to where she is, and the adversity that she’s gone through- it’s really cool to watch her, not only get to where she’s gone, but how she appreciates it. She doesn’t take it for granted.”

Defender of the year won’t be announced until October 19, after the semifinal and NWSL Championship game take place. While matches still need to be played, and all candidates are worthy nominees; Short’s strong play, and even stronger journey, has many rooting for her. Having known Short since before her pro start in the NWSL, Dames shares the sentiment, saying:

“To know what she’s been through and to have been a part of her life as that stuff was going and the perseverance that she’s had to not only get over it, but to get over it and to where she is? It’s a very inspirational tale for anybody that knows it.”