It’s about a month or so from the second most favorite time of year for the Red Stars community (Draft Day) but until then, the Holiday Season is upon us and in full swing.
So, while you’re busy making plans with loved ones and figuring out how to gift for those who mean most in your life, we here at Hot Time thought it’s an appropriate time for putting together a holiday wish list for the 2018 Chicago Red Stars. While the obvious one will be mentioned— ahem NWSL championship ahem— here is a list of things we’d like to see for the Chicago Red Stars next season.
Draft Day Domination
Admit it, you’ve been spoiled on Draft Day. Players Julie Ertz, Vanessa DiBernardo, Danielle Colaprico, Sofia Huerta, and Arin Gilliland have all come through the draft. Fan favorite Jen Hoy has been with the team since Draft Day 2013. In 2016 the arrival of Sarah Gorden and breakout back line gem Katie Naughton added to Chicago’s defensive arsenal.
So, it was no surprise that NWSL draft 2017 was full of promise as former WCC player of the year- Michele Vasconcelos (BYU) was drafted by Chicago. However, she missed the 2017 season due to pregnancy. Morgan Proffitt (Marquette) was drafted after spending time with the Red Stars reserves, and provided center back and defensive mid depth for Chicago. Proffitt ended up on waivers and was claimed off waivers by the Washington Spirit after a whirlwind trade for Kristie Mewis – who landed in Houston for Morgan Brian
While late round 2017 pick Lauren Kaskie (UCLA) had a quiet but solid rookie season as midfield depth for Chicago, we’d like to see that 1st round pick (currently 7th) used and see a return to Draft Day dominance again in 2018.
Set pieces are fun
Julie Ertz is up for U.S. Soccer player of the year. Her emergence in the defensive mid role and her dominance on set piece goals gave her stand out year on both the National team and club level. All 6 of her national team goals this year have come off set pieces.
Chicago’s two set piece goals came off an own goal against Houston after a free kick service from Danielle Colaprico and a corner bobble that was put away by Casey Short - both goals were against the Houston Dash.
Just before the half, @dannycolaprico serves in a dangerous ball and forces an own goal for a 1-0 advantage. #CHIvHOU #NWSLonLIFETIME pic.twitter.com/FHo8ClkEue— NWSL (@NWSL) May 6, 2017
Straight from @CaseyShort3 pic.twitter.com/NZIqxoRv4z— Chicago Red Stars (@chicagoredstars) September 24, 2017
With players who can provide the service in Colaprico and DiBernardo, to players who are strong targets in Ertz and Naughton, we’d like to see Chicago make set pieces a regular part of their game in 2018.
Super amazing mind-blowing signings
Chicago made most of their “hold up, they did what?” trades and signings during the 2017 season. From the announcement of Japanese international Yuki Nagasato in May, to the Mewis-(Proffitt)-Morgan roster movement in late August, Chicago kept most of their 2016 roster intact both heading into and closing out 2017. After the Red Stars season came to a close after a third semifinal elimination, owner Arnim Whisler optimistically tweeted that player contracts were ‘secure’ for 2018 as well.
2018 Headline 1: “Youngest roster in #NWSL aims for unprecedented 4th straight trip to playoffs... another chicago dynasty?”— arnim (@arnimiii) October 10, 2017
Subhead: @chicagoredstars have already secured ALL contracts for 2018.
But this is a holiday wish list, what if other players could make their way to Chicago? So, let’s get crazy - We want to see Shea Groom and Crystal Dunn in Chicago stars and stripes.
The last big off season semi multi-team trade that Chicago was involved in was back in 2016 when Alyssa Naeher made her way to Chicago from the Boston Breakers. It was a trade that had Whitney Engen coming from Western New York to Chicago and then to Boston to complete the deal.
With a newly relocated team in Utah this season, it left us wondering how new Utah Royals coach Laura Harvey wants her roster to look. Sydney Leroux is currently tied to the Royals, as is Shea Groom. If a multi-team trade involving Chicago, Utah, and Orlando with a trade combination of players, draft picks, and international slots (who needs all of those?) were to happen that saw the arrival of Groom to Chicago – we wouldn’t be mad.
Groom could provide an attacking presence for Chicago that has at times been sorely lacking. This past season we saw her ability to open play out right along with someone like Leroux. We wonder what could happen if someone like Christen Press was at the center of said play. The young forward’s skill could help bolster a Red Stars offense that is often very direct, and let’s be frank, Groom has had some of her best moments at Toyota Park.
It was recently reported by French media that Morgan Brian is currently headed to Olympique Lyon on a 2 year contract, and although news has not been officially released, chances are after the holidays Brian’s departure from NWSL could be announced. It might not be a huge loss for a Red Stars midfield that has depth and is one that didn’t feature Brian very often down the stretch of the season due to injury. However, or whenever, news officially breaks on Brian’s departure, it could see the return of another player back to the NWSL after their overseas contract is complete in 2018 - Crystal Dunn.
Welcome to Chelsea Ladies, Crystal Dunn! https://t.co/PGCqSSVwyq— Chelsea Ladies FC (@ChelseaLFC) January 3, 2017
Dunn’s ability to play up top or out wide would provide Chicago with additional options on offense. She left NWSL after the 2016 season she with five assists and helping the Washington Spirit get to the NWSL Championship final where she scored twice. Although her rights would belong to the Washington Spirit, Dunn is another player who could bolster the Chicago offense.
Dunn also plays well in Toyota Park as seen here in these highlights during her last game in Chicago.
Crystal Dunn doing Crystal Dunn things. Vote for her for Goal of the Week! #GOWDunn— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) September 28, 2016
Vote: https://t.co/lgcGB98uwA pic.twitter.com/9qyZLoc2jK
Broad City Champions
In the city of broad shoulders, over five seasons, this team went from mid-table staples to quiet top-table contenders. They’ve managed to make the semifinal the last three seasons, with each elimination stinging just a bit more than the previous one. So, it’s no secret that the biggest and most important thing on this Holiday wish list is for this team to bring a championship to Chicago.
What you would you like to see for next NWSL season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!