The Chicago Red Stars released their preseason schedule yesterday, with their preparations for the 2018 NWSL campaign begin next weekend on February 24th. The schedule features five preseason games for the Red Stars through March 17th before the regular season begins on March 24th.
Chicago to play Marquette and Wisconsin before heading to Portland for the Thorns Spring Invitational to take on the @ThornsFC, @HoustonDash & U23 WNT.— Chicago Red Stars (@chicagoredstars) February 15, 2018
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Road to the regular season
The five preseason matches kick off with two closed matches against two college teams: Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin. Chicago then heads to Portland for what has become an annual preseason event in a spring invitational. The short tournament features the Portland Thorns, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, and the USWNT U23s. All matches are scheduled to take place at the University of Portland.
2018 Preseason Schedule
Saturday, February 24*
Marquette University – 2:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 4*
Univ. of Wisconsin – 7 p.m. CT
Annual Portland Thorns Spring Invitational
Sunday, March 11
Portland Thorns at Univ. of Portland – 7 p.m. CT
Wednesday, March 14
Houston Dash at Univ. of Portland – 3:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 17
U.S. WNT U-23 at Univ. of Portland – 3:30 p.m. PT
*Closed to the public
In a news release , Red Stars head coach Rory Dames emphasized the importance of participating in the invitational.
“This preseason schedule will push our players and allow the coaching staff to evaluate our preseason roster,” Dames said. “Last year the Portland tournament allowed us to take on the top teams and be prepared for the NWSL season, so we are excited to head back and play against the Thorns, Dash and U-23’s.”
New location, who dis?
Due to construction at Providence Park, the invitational will be hosted at Merlo Field at the University of Portland. Tickets will be available for sale on Saturday, February 23 at 10 a.m. Pacific, for those eager to get in on NWSL action. This will be the third annual preseason tournament hosted by Portland and the second time the Red Stars will participate in the event.
In last year’s invitational, the Red Stars came away with 1-1-1 record. A win over the Dash, a loss against the Thorns, and a draw against the U23 team. The preseason event will come after the conclusion of the SheBelieves Cup, and will be an opportunity for some players to make an impact and potentially break into an already tough and talented roster.
Got the city on fire
Although a preseason roster has yet to be announced, personnel changes this off-season will ensure the 2018 Red Stars will have a differnt look.. Both Christen Press (Houston Dash) and Jen Hoy (Sky Blue FC) are on new teams, along with Sam Kerr and Nikki Stanton joining the Chicago via Sky Blue FC. New assistant coaches will also be on the clock this tournament for the Red Stars as Gary Curneen and Craig Harrington join the staff.
Even with the off-season moves, much of Chicago’s core is intact. With all NWSL teams having made roster changes and improvements during this off season, Chicago remains a team on the radar for playoff contention in 2018.
As question marks hover around the new draftees and even last year’s top draft pick in Michele Vasconcelos, the spring invitational will be prime playing ground for opportunities to integrate new talent with existing chemistry.