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Red Stars Notebook: Coaching search extended as preseason begins

A week into preseason, the Chicago Red Stars are still without a coach, while numerous players left on international duty.

NWSL: National Womens Soccer League Championship-Washington Spirit at Chicago Red Stars Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the looming 2022 NWSL season, the Chicago Red Stars still have some decisions to make. Even though preseason has already started, the team is yet announce its new Head Coach, and a few players have left preseason to meet up with National Team camp.

Challenge Cup Schedule

The Red Stars will take the field for the first time in 2022 on the road in Houston on March 20th. They’ll play 6 group stage matches, with home and away games against Houston, Kansas City, and Louisville. The first home game at SeatGeek Stadium will be a Friday night game against the newly-named Kansas City Current on March 25th.

Should the Red Stars advance to the next stage, the semifinals and final will be in early May.

Head Coaching search

Since Rory Dames’ midnight resignation on November 21st, the Red Stars have been on an extensive search to find the club’s second NWSL coach. The front office was hoping to announce a coach by the end of January, but after numerous coaches were interviewed for the job, they are still yet to find a suitable candidate. The search committee is made up of current and former players, assistant coaches, a sports psychologist, and members of the club’s ownership group.

Preseason begins

Preseason has already started and players have already reported for camp, with acting head coach Rade Tanasković leading the team.

Nine players drafted across the last two seasons were named to the preseason roster, with those being Jill Aguilera, Brianna Alger, Ava Cook, Channing Foster, Samantha Fisher, Sarah Griffith, Jayda Hilton-Pelaia, Kayla McKeon, and Haley Van Fossen. None of them have yet been signed,

Two players out on loan overseas are not in attendance. Kayla Sharples is at Adelaide United in Australia, and she will finish the A-League season there, which concludes in the spring. Sarah Luebbert recently had her loan at Club América extended; she has been a fan favorite down in Mexico after a successful first season at Estadio Azteca.

USWNT call-ups

Four Red Stars were named to the U.S. Women’s National Team roster for the annual SheBelieves Cup. Those four are Tierna Davidson, Alyssa Naeher, Mallory Pugh, and Morgan Gautrat.

It’s no surprise that Davidson was named to the roster, and she is in a strong position to start at least two of the three games, especially with Abby Dahlkemper forced to withdraw due to injury. Davidson has established herself as a USWNT regular and has been relied upon by Vlatko Andonovski since he took over in 2019.

Alyssa Naeher could play her first game of competitive soccer since picking up a serious injury at the Tokyo Olympics. She was named to the tournament roster having not played a minute since the semifinal loss to Canada last year. She hasn’t appeared for Chicago since before that tournament.

Mallory Pugh beat out Megan Rapinoe for a roster spot, emblematic Andonovski’s post-Olympics generational shift ahead of the 2023 World Cup. After being an MVP contender thanks to a great season in 2021, Pugh has more than earned her spot back on the USWNT.

Morgan Gautrat returns for the first time since the World Cup victory tour in 2019. She was one of the best midfielders in the NWSL last season and was key to the Red Stars’ playoff run.

The U.S. will play against Czechia (2/17), New Zealand (2/20), and Iceland (2/23) as they prepare for Women’s World Cup Qualifying.