The Chicago Red Stars announced their end of season team awards today, with Lori Chalupny earning the Golden Boot and MVP awards and German international Sonja Fuss taking Defender of the Year.
The awards were voted on by media, players, coaches and staff.
Chalupny, one of the Red Stars team captains, led the way with 5 goals and 4 assists before falling victim to an ankle injury on the road in Portland on July 28, which would see her miss the rest of Chicago’s 4 remaining regular season matches. She played 1500 minutes this season over 18 games, which is just 40 minutes behind the Red Stars minutes-leader.
The 29-year old dynamic midfielder was the engine of the team in spite of registering second place on the league’s most-fouled list.
She personified the grit and never-give-up mentality of a Red Stars team known for late-game comebacks.
“Lori’s work rate and determination on the field, along with her skill set, helped mold the group mentality into the never-say-die attitude they displayed this season,” remarked Head Coach Rory Dames.
Fuss, a 34-year old defender, helped to lead the Chicago Red Stars turnaround after her arrival in late May. Once she helped solidify and lead the backline, the Red Stars had one of the top records in the league from June through the end of the 2013 NWSL season.
Her veteran leadership and experience was crucial to an often-young backline where she brought organization, along with a calm demeanor. She also put away two penalty kicks for the team this year, along with an assist.
“Sonja’s leadership and calming presence to our young backline was a major factor in the team going 8-4-4 in the games she played in,” said Dames.
The Red Stars just narrowly missed the playoffs, but still knocked off the first-place Kansas City in a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory to end their season. In the process, they deprived KC of hosting the playoffs, who needed a win or tie to win out the league regular season.
The most impressive part of the Red Stars season, though, was the attendance at the Benedictine University-Lisle Sports Complex. Several games sold out, especially when going up against teams featuring USWNT players like Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach. Crowds of 1,000+ were typical, from my observations, and the higher priced, on-field seating was a particularly popular draw.
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As for the Red Stars, Dames was philosophical on the team's .500 record at 8-8-6, for 30 points, saying it was impressive, considering the allocation injury losses and losses of other key players to injury throughout the year.
“I’m extremely proud of the group,” he said. “We got off to a very slow start to the season, but from June 1st onward we were tied for most points in the league. We will get it fixed for 2014.”
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