Red Stars Confidential

Chicago Red Stars Archives

Jillian Loyden earns first cap with USWNT

On October 2nd Jillian Loyden earned her first international cap with the U.S. Women's National Team in a victorious match against China that ended with a score of 2-1. Here she shares her excitement on her first cap and victory with the U.S.:


It was awesome. I couldn't stop smiling. It was so much fun and I had the support of the coaching staff and a great team in front of me. 


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PUMA Project Pink teams up with the WPS


PUMA recently teamed up with all seven WPS teams six of the seven WPS teams (the only team not participating is the Atlanta Beat)  to promote breast cancer awareness. [Update: The Atlanta Beat are in fact participating in Project Pink later this season.]
  Each participating team nominated their favorite breast cancer charity and the winning charity receives 100% the profits from the sale of all Project Pink gear, which Marta is photographed promoting on the PUMA website. Since day one the WPS has made an effort to emphasize that the league is not just about the teams but about each community these team is representing.  This RECOGNIZE AWESOME PUMA project is a perfect example of Women's Professional Soccer giving back to the community, which is a vital message to send to all the young fans of women's soccer.

PUMA launches Project Pink in partnership with WPS teams: [Women's Professional Soccer]  

Here's a collage of Red Stars players in their pink jerseys:

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The Red Stars undergo several squad changes

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Kosovare Asllani leaves the Red Stars to return to Sweden.

In the last week the Chicago Red Stars have undergone several changes, some players have said goodbye to Chicago, while new players are being welcomed with open arms.  A question to think about with all these changes taken place is: are these changes going to help ensure a spot for the Red Stars (currently fourth in the league) a spot in the playoffs?

  • The Red Stars acquired the rights for Faith Ikidi a Nigerian defender.  Ikidi is currently playing for Linkoping FC in Sweden, though the Washington Freedom previously owned the rights to her. I personally don't know http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=102186445515much about Ikidi, but I'm excited for the addition of some African flare to the squad.  From what I've read Omid Namazi hopes that Ikidi adds depth to our back line in the future. If she's here before the season ends there's a possibility that we'll see her defensive skills help keep the Stars' opponents from putting the ball in the back of the net.

  • Anita Asante is onto her third team for the 2010 WPS season, fourth in her WPS career. Last year Asante played on Sky Blue FC's championship team, this year she started off the season on St. Louis Athletica's roster, but the Red Stars acquired her when Athletica left her as a free agent after their demise. Asante had the choice to either stay with the Red Stars or move on to the Freedom, who inquired about her during the the Ikidi rights trade. I don't view this as a positive change or a negative one or a change that will affect our run for a spot in the playoffs.  I am confident in the pairing of Kate Markgraf and Whitney Engen at center back for Chicago. Plus, we have the addition of Ikidi to the team.  If Asante is able to get more playing time with the Freedom then by all means she should go play.  As a soccer player, I know I'd want to. 

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Rapinoe scores in the USWNT's win against Sweden

Yesterday the USWNT played against Sweden for the second time in a week.  On Wednesday the game ended with a score of 1-1 in a game I personally felt they should have won. Yesterday, however, the US women's team defeated Kosovare Asllani and her swedish teammates 3-0.  Red Stars' Megan Rapinoe scored the first goal for the US with a goal in the 33rd minute. Abby Wambach tallied the other two goals for the US in the 45th and 72nd minute of play, both of her goals were scored off of headers. 

Since this goal there have been two rad photos of Pinoe (as many of her fans like to call her) floating around the internet from the USWNT soccer blog at US Soccer's website. I couldn't help but share them to celebrate her awesomeness with all of you. I hope she puts one in the back of the net for Chicago soon!

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Pinoe rockin' the shades

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Kate Markgraf earns 200th cap with USWNT

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Chicago Red Stars defender Kate Markgraf earned her 200th cap with the USWNT team on Tuesday in their match against Sweden.  Markgraf proudly wore the captain's armband in the game that ended in a 1-1 draw. Since 1998 Markgraf has played 200 games for the US, started 189 games, scored 1 goal, and has had 9 assists. 

Markgraf was not the only Red Stars player represented in the international friendly.  Megan Rapinoe also started for the USWNT, while Kosovare Asllani started for the Swedes. 

Red Stars in the house, yah

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  • Your Chicago Red Stars (2-5-3) play in Boston tonight, facing off against the Breakers (1-4-4).  The last time these two teams met on the pitch, the Red Stars defeated the Breakers with a score of 2-0.  This time around the Breakers will have former Red Star on their side in Lindsay Tarpley, who Boston acquired with the loss of St. Louis Athletica to the league. 

  • The Red Stars were recently sighted at Chicago's Bull and Bear Bar in support of the USMNT's World Cup match on Wednesday (hello, victory!).  Marian Dalmy and Megan Rapinoe were sportin' their US Soccer jerseys, while a handful of players were there supporting England. I'm looking at you, Carney! And the rest of your English posse. 

  • On Saturday the 19th Chicago fell to Atlanta with a score of 1-0.  A sad day for Chicago was a great day for Atlanta, as this was their first win in franchise history. 

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Game 3 of the undefeated streak.

New coach. New players. Fresh start.....well, as fresh as it's going to get. Here we are in June and the Chicago Red Stars have finally made a "right turn"! Under the direction of new coach, Omid Namazi, the Red Stars have gone 3 games undefeated. With 2 of the games being played at home, I would assume the majority of you were in attendence so i'll skip right to the 3rd. The team traveled out to DC to play the Washington Freedom.

Your starting XI were as follows: Loyden, Markgraf, Engen, Dalmy, Formiga, Spilger, Chapman, Carney, Cristiane, Rapinoe, Asllani. In the 11th minute we went down when the unstopable Abby Wambach's head met the ball and caught Loyden off her line. And only a few minutes later came the second goal when Bompastor took a free kick and Sawa was able to get a head on the ball. By no means was the Freedom goalie bored, we kept her busy, but a common trend for the Red Stars...we couldnt put a ball in the back of the net. And then in the 30th minute the Brazilian struck! Cristiane found the ball after Carney played a ball into the box. A sliding attempt gave the ball the push it needed to find the back of the net.

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Natalie Spilger out for the count? Hardly!

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Natalie Spilger before the Red Stars' game against the Atlanta Beat with new head coach, Omid Namazi.

I missed the first few minutes of the Red Stars vs Atlanta Beat game yesterday because I was playing in my own game that didn't end until 4:30.  By the time I got into Toyota Park both teams had already made substitutions, and I didn't even realize it until I saw this photo on the WPS site today.

Spilger and Mami Yamaguchi knocked heads while fearlessly colliding in the air causing both teams to make early subs, as mentioned earlier. Spilger talks about the bloody head injury at her personal blog, which can be read here: Red Stars, Red Wounds, as well as her thoughts on the recent turn of events the Red Stars have had to face recently...

  • New Coach - Omid Namazi
  • Loss of players - Effie Dieke, Brittany Klein, Michelle Weissenhofer
  • Additions to their roster - Nikki Washington, Elise Webber, and Anita Asanti

The Red Stars tied the Beat with a score of 0-0.  They managed to lock down the Beat's offensive play, but were unsuccessful in finding the back of the net. (I hope it's not this won't continue to be the same ole story for the Stars.)

"I think every game we give our all and we put on a good performance. I think we're lacking the final third and scoring goals and that's obviously a big thing in football. We need to produce those chances and to finish them." -Katie Chapman


Lady of the Match: The Chicago Red Stars

Name: The Chicago Red Stars
Game: Saturday, May 29th vs FC Gold Pride at Toyota Park
Final: Red Stars 1 - 0 FC Gold Pride

Yes, yes - we've voted in the entire Red Stars team as Lady of the Match his time around. Could you disagree?  I've said it once and I'll say it again, this team finally played as a cohesive unit.  They're, obviously, quite talented and were finally able to connect all the talent, skill, competitiveness and finish the game off with a win as a T-E-A-M! YES!

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"I just think the team really came out tonight and competed well together, and that was one of the primary goals they had -- to make this a complete team effort. And you can look at the great goal Kosa (Kosovare Asllani) scored coming through with excellent timing created by Marian Dalmy, but you could find a moment through the game where each player made an impact. Dalmy on the goal line certainly a huge impact, Pinoe (Megan Rapinoe) after she was physically done, the hard runs she was making, so you could find different moments throughout this game when each player stepped up and played her role and made a contribution. So I think it was just a really good, comprehensive team effort tonight." -Red Stars General Manager Marcia McDermott


Other reasons they deserve to be Lady of the Match:
  • They lost their head coach, Emma Hayes, less than a week before this game
  • FC Gold Pride is at top of the table and have only lost one game previous to this one
  • The Red Stars defense made stand out players like Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Tiffeny Milbrett unnoticeable 
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Emma Hayes released from coaching duties; Red Stars defeat FC Gold Pride 1-0

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mma Hayes hangs out with the British ladies of the Red Stars - Karen Carney & Katie Chapman

As most of you have already probably heard, Emma Hayes was fired from the head coaching position with the Chicago Red Stars on Monday, May 24th.  What people may not know is that what GM, Marcia McDermott said about Hayes is 100% accurate -

"I want to thank Emma for her hard work and assistance with the launch of the Red Stars franchise," Red Stars General Manager Marcia McDermott said. "This was a difficult decision to make because she poured her heart into the organization. We felt it was time for a change as we move forward and look to put together a successful run this season."

I first met Hayes about a year and a half ago when I accompanied her and Peter Wilt to an FC Indiana vs Red Eleven match in Indianapolis.  Hayes exuded with positive soccer energy the entire car ride. Other than Wilt, I have never met someone so genuinely excited about a soccer endeavor that lay at their fingertips, which I Imagine  is one of the reasons why he thought Hayes would be a great fit for the Red Stars organization.  Personally, I can wholeheartedly say that Hayes' passion for the Red Stars shined through in any interaction I had with her.

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Red Stars, USWNT dominate their opponents

The Red Stars finally got the confidence boost they needed on Friday with a 5-0 win against the USL W-League's Red Eleven in Buffalo Grove. Julianne Sitch, Kosovare Asllani (+1 assist), Casey Nogueria, and Cristiane all scored goals for the Red Stars. Cristiane finished the game off for the Red Stars with two goals, one off of a PK and a goal that was assisted by Sophie Reiser. 
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Cristiane takes on Athletica defenders in an earlier match this year. 

"I've really been working hard on the front three -- pressuring, and putting the [opposing] team on a lot of pressure, and I thought in the first half we did that really well," Red Stars Head Coach Emma Hayes said. "And then making sure our movement's good up top to create opportunities. When it was 1-nil at halftime, I thought we deserved to be up by a bit more."

Because of national team duty, the Red Stars were without a majority of their regular starting defenders and midfielders, as well as goalkeepers Jillian Loyden and Kelsey Davis. Defenders Marian Dalmy, Ifeoma Dieke and Kate Markgraf, and midfielders Karen Carney, Katie Chapman and Megan Rapinoe, were all unavailable for the Red Stars.

---- [Red Stars Net 5-0 Win Over Red Eleven - Chicago Red Stars]

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Kate Markgraf warming up before a Red Stars game.


In other women's soccer news... 

Saturday the USWNT took on the Germany's powerful squad.  The US won 4-0 with two goals from Abby Wambach, as well as goals from Kristine Lilly and Heather O'Reilly. Red Stars players Kate Markgraf and Megan Rapinoe both saw the field during the second half of the game.  It was Markgraf's first time in the lineup since December 2008, after giving birth to twins last year. 
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Lady of the Match: Formiga

Name: Formiga
Position: Midfield
Game: Saturday, May 15th vs Philadelphia Independence at Toyota Park
Final: Red Stars 0 - 1 Independence

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Formiga helps Kate Markgraf out on defense against the Independence, and the Stars successfully keep Philly from earning a corner kick.


Formiga was signed as a free agent by the Red Stars in March of this year.  She has started 3 games for the Red Stars this season and started 15 out of 16 games for FC Gold Pride in 2009.  She joins Katie Chapman at the defensive central midfielder position. Formiga and Chapman had exceptional games in the midfield - containing Independence players, slowing down the Philadelphia's attack, as well as excellent distribution. 

It was a close call but Formiga has been voted the Red Stars Confidential Lady of the Match.

Lady of the Match Runners Up

Karen Carney
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Katie Chapman
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Agree? Disagree?
Who was your lady of the match?

Lady of the Match: Your guess is as good as mine

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It's only a matter of time before this frown turns upside down. Red Stars battle the Independence this Saturday at Toyota Park, 6PM - don't miss the action! 

Date:
Saturday, May 8th vs FC Gold Pride in Hayward, CA
Final: Red Stars 0 - 2 FC Gold Pride
Highlights: Video Highlights - Red Stars vs FC Gold Pride

It's unfortunate more WPS games aren't televised or shown on the web, it makes it difficult to report back on games, give input on players, or pick a player of the game - that on top of the fact that the Red Stars lost 2-0 is why we've decided not to nominate someone for Lady of the Match this week. 

I would like to add that it sounds like Jill Loyden had another fantastic game, so she is our honorary Lady of the Match Runner Up. "Jillian had a fantastic game," Hayes said of the Chicago goalkeeper. "She was our player of the match. She had a great game and kept us in it."

The Red Stars next game is this Saturday at Toyota Park against the Philadelphia Independence at 6PM.  This is the first time the Stars and Independence will face off - don't miss this game, call 1-866-WPS-2009 for ticket information!

Video Highlights: Red Stars vs FC Gold Pride

  • The Red Stars lost to FC Gold Pride 2-0 on Saturday
  • Ifeoma Dieke was red carded in the 25th minute
  • Because of the red card, Emma Hayes had to make an early defensive substitution, which allowed Natalie Spilger to see the field for the first time this season
  • Jill Loyden saved her first PK of the year - 7 saves total in the match
  • Tiffeny Milbrett (FCGP) scored just before the half in the 45th minute of the game
  • Kelley O'Hara (FCGP) scored in the 78th minute and was assisted by Kimberly Yorkers
  • The Red Stars are now 1-3-1 and FC Gold Pride is 4-1-0

Interview with Jill Loyden: face saving, kung fu kicking extraordinaire

After being named Lady of the Match for the Red Stars, I asked Jill Loyden if she would mind answering a few questions that the Red Stars Confidential staff put together for her.  She was more than happy to help.

Loyden and her teammates are currently on the road, awaiting the Red Stars game against 1st-place FC Gold Pride on Saturday


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Loyden makes a save against her former team St. Louis Athletica. 

1. How does it feel to be named RS Confidential Lady of the Match?
It feels great to be Lady of the Match, however it was such a great team victory for us against Boston. We really came together as a team, it took all 22 players for us to get it done this week. It was a well deserved win.

2. How was your face feeling after you made an extraordinary save with it in the match against Boston (or so we hear)? 
Hahha, my face? Well right after it hit me I thought I got sucker punched, but after that I really don't remember, adrenaline was the only thing that kept me going.

3. How excited do you get when you make a sweet save?
After a good save I get pretty amped, mostly because it gets the team all fired up and they usually pick it up from there.

4. How badly do your hands smell after games? Worse than your shins?
Well, I dont think my hands smell too too bad after games, but Im sure you could find a couple of my teammates who would beg to differ.
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Video Highlights: Red Stars vs Breakers

Casey Nogueira and Cristiane scored second half goals for the Red Stars to clinch their first win of the 2010 season against the Boston Breakers.

Spilger flexes in honor of going green

Lady of the Match: Kosovare Asllani

We here at Red Stars Confidential would like to present you with our first ever Lady of the Match (player of the game).  Even though the Red Stars game ended in a devastating 1-0 loss against Sky Blue FC yesterday, we still want to award one player with a huge high five for her extraordinary efforts.

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Yesterday Kosovare Asllani stole our hearts.  She took a hard knock in the early minutes of the game that gave us a little scare, but after she got back on her feet she didn't disappoint.  We heard she was a confident little diva (we use that term in the most positive way possible), and her work on the field is proving it.  When she gets the ball she heads to goal, she works magic with her feet, and she produces excellent scoring opportunities for her teammates.  Asllani even scored a goal in the 40' of play that ended up being called offsides.  

So here's a huge high five to you, Asllani!

Lady of the Match Runners Up

  • Karen Carney
  • Jillian Loyden

Who was your lady of the match?

Natalie Spilger is Cooking Green

Hey all! I don't have time for a lengthy post today, but in the spirit of Earth Day, I wanted to let everyone to know that the Red Stars' Natalie Spilger will be Cooking Green tonight. Check out the flyer for further details.  

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Chicago Red Stars Home Opener

The Chicago Red Stars ended in a 1-1 tie for their home opener this past saturday night. An amazing 5,134 fans showed up to support the team as they took on Saint Louis Athletica. Casey Nogueira netted the only goal to tie the game in the 59th minute of play. The Red Stars dominated in the amount of shots they took but couldn't seem to find the back of the net. It took a rookie to step on the field to get it done! Props to Casey!

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Casey Nogueira (Photo Credit - James Smith)

Alright enough of the chit chat, lets get to the good stuff.....

I had the privilege of sitting with the L134 for the majority of the first half,until I was pulled down to the field to do my interview with Coach Hayes, but we will get to that later. If you have never sat with this group before I suggest doing so in the near future! A very entergetic and wild group we have sitting over there! Definitely the life of the party!

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Emma Hayes fined for criticizing referee

This just in via @Kibby56Emma Hayes fined $300 & given 4hrs of community service for comments (public criticism of game officials) made on April 11 2010 (via #wps)

But in all honesty, who could blame her? The Red Stars were down 1-0 in the 82nd minute of play and one of her players (Karen Carney) was clearly taken down by the goalie (Karen Bardsley) in the box, wouldn't you make it known that you're not content with the call?  I know I would. And if Carney wasn't fouled by Bardsley then shouldn't she have received a yellow card for diving?

You can find a replay of this disputed action here.  The play takes place in the 82nd minute of the match (appx 3:40 into the video). 

Carney and Bardsley are teammates together for England's Women's National Team.  

Red Stars Home Opener Tomorrow!

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As I've previously stated, I truly believe that the Red Stars have an exceptional, exciting team.  They have a surplus of talent that many WPS fans are not familiar with.  If the Red Stars play like they did last week and continue to develop, it will be a good year for Chicago.  The potential is endless.

Fingers crossed that the Red Stars have 20 shots against Hope Solo and the Athletica, as they did against Sky Blue FC. And fingers crossed that a few of those 20 shots see the back of the net.  

****
Friends of the Stars:
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Red Stars end their Chicago preseason showcase with a 4-0 victory against DePaul

Last week the Red Stars played two 45 minute preseason games.  The first match was played against Northwestern, which the Red Stars won 2-0 with two goals from Masar.  The Northwestern game was followed by a 45 minute game again the DePaul Blue Demons. 

As stated in a previous entry, Katie Q and I caught the matches at the Wildcats' lakeside field in Evanston.  The weather was gorgeous, and we were excited to be enjoying some quality local soccer.  Check out a recap of the game against DePaul below.  

Red Stars starting 11:

Masar - Cristiane
Weissenhofer - Santacaterina - Klein - Sitch
Vandenbergh - Markgraf - Spilger - Dalmy
Davis

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Julianne Sitch and Ella Masar warm-up before their games against Northwestern and DePaul. 

Red Stars with the wind for this match-up - a totally unfair advantage for them against DePaul.  The Red Stars only make one sub after their first 45 minutes against Northwestern, as Kelsey Davis subs in for Meghann Burke in goal. Lydia Vandenbergh and Michele Weissenhofer switch positions in the midfield and defensively on the left wing.

It should also be noted that Julianne Sitch spent her college days playing at DePaul.  In fact, I first saw Sitch play at DePaul and quickly became a huge fan of hers.  Last week she had the honor of wearing the captain's armband when playing against her alma mater. 

And the game begins...

Please keep in mind that clocks at college games count from 45 minutes down to zero. Confusing, I know!

43' - A few minutes into the 2nd 45-minute game and Weissenhofer prepares herself for a flip throw that lands itself on the other side of the penalty box.
43' - Shot goes off the crossbar from Cristiane.
 (I thought it was Masar. Replay please?)
40' - Sitch takes the ball from the half all the way to goal where she collides with the goalie. DePaul has the ball.
39' - Cristiane stands around looking lethargic - fitness.......?
38' - Cristiane throws her hands in the air and catches a long ball as it comes to her rather than trying to trap it, head it, or letting it fly out  of bounds on its own
38' - Cristiane back in action as she shows off her footwork at the top of the box.  She distributes the ball wide to Vandenbergh, who has a shot on goal that the DePaul keeper makes a diving save for.  Spilger rebounds and nails it over the goal. 
34' - Cristiane shot - Goalkeeper makes the save

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Cristiane takes a shot against DePaul.

34' - Awful punt from the DePaul keeper - the ball lands near the 18 yard line and Cristiane isn't able to capitalize on DePaul's error.
33' - Lots of action in and around the box from the Red Stars, including passing between Masar and Cristiane, who sends it outside right to Sitch who scores for the Stars. 1-0 Red Stars! GOAAAL!
(The Northwestern announcers call it an own goal - pssh!)
31' - RS corner
30' - Ella to Cristiane to Weissenhofer --- GOAL! 
29' - DePaul attacks
28' - DePaul is called offiside - sorry, ladies!
25' - DePaul continues on the attack, they get a cross in but it's is saved by Davis.
24' - Katie Q supports the DePaul folks cheering from the bleachers. Two thumbs up. 
22' - Another flip throw - the young-ins in the crowd gets pumped.  The ball reaches the center of the box at the six yard line.
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Red Stars Home Opener Watch Party This Sunday!

The Red Stars take on Sky Blue FC this Sunday out in New Jersey. Why not come out and see the inaugural game with the Red Stars Staff, select players and your friends at Team RS Confidential?

Where: The Globe Pub, 1934 W. Irving Park Rd.
When: Party starts at 4pm, Kickoff's at 5pm.

Come out, have some food and drinks and let's cheer on our hometown women in their first game of the year.

Masar scores both goals in the Stars' 2-0 preseason win over Northwestern

On Wednesday the Red Stars played two 45 minute preseason games.  The first match was played against Northwestern, followed by a 45 minute game again the DePaul Blue Demons. 


Katie Q and I caught the matches at the Wildcats' lakeside field in Evanston.  The weather was gorgeous, and we were excited to be enjoying some quality local soccer.  Check out a recap of the game below, including some random observations of mine. And stay tuned to hear what Katie Q thought of the game with an entry that will be coming soon, as well as a recap of the Red Stars vs DePaul game.


Red Stars starting 11:


Masar - Cristiane

Vandenbergh - Santacaterina - Klein - Sitch

Weissenhofer - Markgraf - Spilger - Dalmy

Burke


Brittany Klein sporting the captain's arm band for the 45 minute preseason friendly against Northwestern. 


It takes us a few minutes to get our bearings, as we settle in our seats near the Red Stars' right winger - 


who is that?

that's Rapinoe...

is that Rapinoe? 

No, that's not Rapinoe. 

Who the hell is that?

Whoa, it's Julianne - she cut her hair!

Oh yeah, that makes sense, Rapinoe is with the national team today


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Julianne Sitch (formerly of Sky Blue FC)

Okay, back to the ongoing game... (keep in mind that clocks at college games count from 45 minutes down to zero. Oy, confusing!)


33' - Sitch crosses from the right to Klein who misses low 

31' - Markgraf still composed as ever, not to mention as fit as ever - making a speedy run down the left wing

30' - Good movement from Sitch

27' - Sitch passes a through ball to Masar - NW keeper slides out for the save

26' - Cross in from Cristiane, Masar unable to capitalize

23' - Good distribution from Klein

15' - Dalmy passes to Cristiane from the back - beautiful turn from Cristiane, who slides it through to Masar, who is able to put this one in the net. GOAL!


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Ella Masar scored both goals against Northwestern in the Red Stars 2-0 win.

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Qual é o seu nome do futebol Brasileiro?

In honor of Cristiane and Formiga, the Red Stars' Brazilian players, let's start celebrating the upcoming World Cup a few months early by generating our Brazilian soccer futeball names.

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Cristiane and Formiga celebrate after Cristiane scores a goal in 2007. [Photo Credit: http://abacaxicomtofu.blogspot.com]  


Give it a shot here: If you played for Brazil, What would your name be?  Go ahead... click the link!

Here are the names that would be on the back of the Red Stars Confidential bloggers' yellow, blue, and green jerseys:

Red Stars Confidential - Stars confidentiico, #00
Nicole Hack (that's me!) - Nicolildo, #2
KTQ - Katiosa, #12
Pott Rocks - Rodriquisco, #3
Nick Hawkins - Hawkito, #6
Katie - Katiiano, #56

What's your Brazilian futeball name?
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Its Game Day!!!

Tonight the Chicago Red Stars play the Washington Freedom as part of their preseason games. If you didnt know the team is in FL, but the weather is just as gloomy down there as it is here in Chi. Ella (@emasar3) tweeted earlier saying...

"People start praying now for this rain to stop, driving to Vero Beach to try and play DC! "

Coach Hayes (@emmahayes1) released the lineup via twitter not to long ago.

It will look something like this...

Loydon

Dalmy  Markgraf  Engen  Spilger   

Klein  Reiser  Sitch  Weissenhoffer

Cristiane  Masar

 

Assuming they play a 4-4-2

Wishing the team best of luck!! and hoping the rain stops!!

For all of you who use Twitter........

Megan Rapinoe (@mpinoe)  and Brittany Klein (@britklein) are now tweeting!

A quick look back at the 2010 Algarve Cup

Hi guys, it's been a while, but i haven't forgotten y'all! I've faced some rough times as of late, and I hope to express them in more detail here at Red Stars Confidential in the future.  Until then, check out these amazing goals from the Algarve Cup. Plus highlights from the final, which the USWNT won last week against Germany (final score: 3-2). Congrats, ladies!

Algarve Cup Videos

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Megan Rapinoe was Chicago's representative with the USWNT in the 2009 Algarve Cup. The US women ended up losing to Sweden in the final 3-4 in penalties. [Photo Credit: http://olympic-spirit.blogspot.com]

Friends of the Stars

WPS international shine at Algarve Cup - Internationals shine including the Red Stars' Kosovare Asllani. [The Equalizer] 

Red Stars Loyden, Nogueira Named to U.S. WNT For Algarve Cup - [Our Sports Central]


 

Chicago Red Stars Announce 2010 Schedule

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!...and some Fridays, Saturdays and Wednesdays too.

Your Chicago Red Stars have announced the 2010 Schedule!  Yes!

The league domination (think happy thoughts kiddies) starts Sunday, April 11th against Sky Blue FC in New Jersey.  This is going to be a ramped-up launch to the new season so catch the game on Fox Soccer Channel.  I vote calling your local watering hole to see if they are carrying the game...Small Bar, The Globe, your crazy neighbor Pavel with cable.

The home opener is the following weekend, Saturday, April 17 vs. Saint Louis Athletica @ 7 p.m.  Could be a chilly one but that's what tailgating and some pre-game footie are for.  Check out Local 134 for fan activities. 

Get excited, it's going to be a great season!  

Ella Masar Interview

Red Stars Confidential got the privilege of being able to interview star Forward Ella Masar. Since professional soccer players get soccer questions all the time, we figured that we should have some fun with Ella.


NH:        The Red Stars have undergone a big transformation in the off-season. How do you feel coming back to what seems like a brand new team?
EM:        I am extremely excited. Anytime you have a disappointing season, as we did last year, we know changes need to be made. I have no doubt that the choices the Red Stars made in the off season will make us a better team and a top contender in the league.

NH:        What's it going to be like with Kate Markgraf back?
(after missing the 2009 season due to the birth of twins)
EM:        Kate Markgraf is a name that speaks for itself. She is not only a veteran of one of the best team's in our countries history but even more an amazing person. She is someone that will bring experience, heart, and pride to the Chicago name. I am truly flabbergasted to be able to call her my teammate.

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Ella Masar is the Chuck Norris of the Red Stars.




NH:        Which would you rather play for? The 2011 World Cup team or the 2012 Olympic team? (my hope is both)
EM:        haha that's like choosing between chocolate and long walks on the beach, not possible!  To be able to have your name on the back of the US jersey is a dream within itself. The hours of sacrifice, hard work, and dedication are something many people can't fathom (not even myself at times). Just to have that honor would be worth more than a Gold Medal and World Cup, those are just extra bonuses.

NH:        WPS puts a lot of effort into social networking: Facebook, Twitter, etc - do you think this helps bridge the gap between fan and athlete?
EM:        I definitely think that it helps. It's a way that the fans can interact with us and take a small step into our lives. Hopefully it can show the joy and love we have for them, as well as how much their respect and appreciation mean to us.

NH:        Who do you look up to professionally?

EM:        Lindsey Tarpley hands down. Humble and hungry is something that I strive to live by everyday and Linds is someone that upholds that to the highest regard. She is by far one of the most dedicated, humble, and hardest workers I know. She has allowed me to know and respect the journey of a national team and professional player that much more.

NH:        What's your pre-game play list on your iPod?
EM:        Hahaha, well in the past years it has been the Lil Wayne, Eminem, and any other rap music that gets my heart beating and blood a pumping. Yet this year, after taking a liking to movie soundtracks, I can't help and put on songs that are from an inspiring or dramatic scene. For instance the song "Promontory" from Last of the Mohicans or "Prime" from Transformers are two of my favs. If those don't make you feel like you can run climb the highest mountain, I'm not sure what else can :p

NH:        I looked at the Chicago Red Stars website and saw that you also do double duty as answering the phones for the Red Stars. Shouldn't Coach Hayes have you practicing instead of taking ticket orders?



EM:        lol, What can I say, being a professional comes with all sides of the spectrum. Anything that will allow me to be closer with the fans and help build our supporter base is something I can't turn down. 
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A tribute to Peter Wilt's time in Chicago: Alison Moran - Women's Sports Director

A few months ago, Peter Wilt - the founding President and CEO of the Chicago Red Stars - publicly announced that he was leaving Chicago and returning home to Milwaukee to serve as President and CEO of the Milwaukee Wave. Wilt served Chicago's professional soccer community as an executive leader with the Chicago Power, Chicago Fire, and Chicago Red Stars for nearly15 years. Here, some of his friends and co-workers reflect on his accomplishments.

Name: Alison Moran
Current place of employment & job title: Women's Sports Director, SRN Broadcasting/Co-Host, Weekend Sports Report, WKRS-AM 1220.

When did you first meet Peter?
My job is to seek and report on women's sports and trends in sports as they relate to women. When I heard that a new professional women's soccer league league was starting a team in Chicago, I was on it! My relationship with Peter started through a series of emails--from these emails, I felt--wow, this is the most accessible and friendly a CEO that I've ever found. His openness, honesty, accessibility and sheer passion for the game set him apart from virtually every other CEO I'd met. And I wanted to know more about how this league planned to make a go of it. We met for what turned out to be a two-hour lunch/interview at Mama Luigi's, and in that time, despite the fact that he was (and is) a die-hard White Sox fan, I knew we were on the same wavelength, and I'd made a friend for life. 

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Peter rockin' his Jets Favre jersey while at a Chicago White Sox game at Cellular Field. 

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An early valentine greeting from Red Stars Confidential

Casey "Noogie" Nogueira showing off ALL her moves

On Thursday, February 4th the Red Stars drafted Casey Nogueira in the LA Sol - Dispersal Draft.  She will add even more depth to the Stars already talented offensive line. 

Check out this video as she battles Tobin Heath (first overall 2010 WPS draft pick for the Atlanta Beat) while showing off some of their very impressive juggling skills here. And if that footwork wasn't enough to get you excited about this new addition to the Red Stars' roster, take a look at Nogueira's supreme dance moves below with former UNC teammate, Nikki Washington.


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A tribute to Peter Wilt's time in Chicago: Amanda Vandervort - Women's Professional Soccer

A few months ago, Peter Wilt - the founding President and CEO of the Chicago Red Stars - publicly announced that he was leaving Chicago and returning home to Milwaukee to serve as President and CEO of the Milwaukee Wave. Wilt served Chicago's professional soccer community as an executive leader with the Chicago Power, Chicago Fire, and Chicago Red Stars for nearly15 years. Here, some of his friends and co-workers reflect on his accomplishments

Name: Amanda Vandervort
Current place of employment & job title: Women's Professional Soccer - Web Coordinator 
Previously: Chicago Red Stars - Director of Online Marketing, Website and Camps

When did you first meet Peter?
I met Peter on the Exhibit Hall floor at the NSCAA Convention in Baltimore, Md. in January 2008.  

What was it like working with Peter? Did he influence you in any way, and if so, how?
Even before I started working with the Chicago Red Stars, I knew about Peter's quest to bring a Women's Professional Soccer franchise to the Chicagoland area through his blog: http://chicagoprowomenssoccer.blogspot.com.  His  transparency drew me toward the Red Stars from the very beginning, and even before we met I felt like we were "virtual friends".  

As Peter's employee at the Chicago Red Stars, I always felt he was open, sincere, honest and approachable - regarding literally anything!!!  He is a true leader in every sense of the word.  Peter always brings creative and fresh ideas to the table, and is willing to listen to everybody else's input - no matter how big, small, or crazy the idea - because he honestly respects his colleagues and peers. My favorite part about working for Peter was that he always made time to come by and sit in my office to learn about the project I was working on, or sometimes he'd just come by to put his feet up and hang. 

I am thankful that I have Peter in my life, and feel that he taught me a few really important things in business: (1) Understand and implement effective management skills (I will carry his management style close to my heart in whatever future opportunities come my way); (2) surround yourself with people you admire and respect; (3) It's okay to be open and honest in a public forum, even if your opinion may not be the most popular, and (4) you'll get back what you put into it!  (Take the time to write blogs when people ask you to, respond to twitter/facebook comments, participate in online communities, etc.)

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Talk Like a Pirate Day at the Chicago Red Stars' Office in 2008 - one of Vandervort's favorite memories with Wilt

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Where will Marta go?

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This weekend while I was spending time with some of my soccer loving friends a question came up regarding the placement of Marta now that the LA Sol have folded. It's not a matter of who wants Marta because who wouldn't want her on their team? She has been the women's FIFA Player of the Year since 2006, so there's obviously no denying her talent. If it were 1991 would you turn down Michael Jordan if he had the opportunity to shoot hoops for your team? I highly doubt it. 

In any event, where will Marta go? is now the question on the table. Now that St. Louis has formally announced their trade with Atlanta, are they hoping to scoop up Marta in the first round of the Sol draft? If Athletica has the money to bring Marta to the Midwest I am sure we will see Marta wearing Athletica green this season, but if the money isn't there, what team will be able to financially secure a spot for her on their roster? 

The dispersal draft will take place on Thursday, February 4th. The Chicago Red Stars have the 4th, 13th and 20th picks from LA's roster.  I vote that Brittany Bock comes back to her hometown, Chicago. 

So long, Sol


A tribute to Peter Wilt's time in Chicago: Greg Zaskowski - Chicago Red Stars

Name: Greg Zaskowski

Current place of employment & current job title: Chicago Red Stars - Director of Ticket Sales

Previously: Chicago Fire (2000-04) - Manager of Group Sales


When did you first meet Peter?

I first met Peter when I was a Marketing Intern for the Chicago Fire during the summer of 2000. But I could have very well met him prior to that and not even have realized it, since I spent a lot of time at Fire games during my summer breaks from college in '98 and '99.


What was it like working with Peter? Did he influence you in any way, and if so, how?

Peter has a way of making you feel like you're the most important person in the room, that is the kind of respect and attention he will give you. I've experienced this all the time and witness this when he interacts with people that have praised and/or criticized his teams.  I have a treasure chest full of knowledge that I've learned from Peter, but his biggest influence on me has been the lesson of having fun while working hard and treating everyone with respect... a truly simple plan, really. 


How has Peter influenced soccer in the Chicagoland area; what sort of impact has he made?

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"The Fire's Frank Klopas, left, helps pay a tribute to former Chicago Stinger owner Lee Stern, whose club won its final outdoor title 25 years ago in the North American Soccer League." Orrin Schwarz - Daily Herald Columnist 

In my opinion, there is no question (and I think Peter would agree) that Lee Stern is the "Godfather of Chicago Soccer". Without the early pioneers of soccer in America and Philip Anschutz's trust, Peter would not have been able to launch soccer in Chicago to its current levels of awareness and commercial success. 


However, without Peter's guidance during MLS's expansion into Chicago, the Fire would not have won the double in 98. Without his guidance during the Soldier Field renovations, the Fire may have lost their identity in Chicago. Without his devotion, the Red Stars would not exist. Without his guidance and persistence, Toyota Park would not get built. When the time comes for the Fire to find a new home because they have outgrown Toyota Park it will have much to do with the foundation that Peter put in place with Chicago's premier soccer entity.  


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A tribute to Peter Wilt's time in Chicago

Just three months ago Peter Wilt, the founding President and CEO of the Chicago Red Stars, publicly announced that he was leaving Chicago and returning home to Milwaukee to serve as President and CEO of the Milwaukee Wave.

I first met Peter in the winter of 05/06 through our mutual friend Brandon Kitchens at a Section 8 Chicago event.  I instantly discovered how fun-loving, kind hearted, and charismatic Peter is by the enthusiasm he displayed for the people around him. He went out of his way to welcome, share drinks and laughs with my sister and I, as he naturally roamed the room as a best friend to everyone there.

In the months that followed, Peter found out how big of a role women's soccer had played in my life and what a huge fan I was of the women's game. In the summer of 2006 he asked me to be an intern for the yet to be named Chicago Red Stars.  I was beyond excited for an opportunity to work with Peter on the upcoming WPS team in Chicago, but sadly after a few weeks of assisting Peter I wasn't able to continue due to a new job. But that didn't stop me from further developing a friendship with Peter. 

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Peter Wilt & I (2009)

As Peter's friend I have continued to learn about the world of soccer and about friendship.  I will forever be grateful that I had Peter at my side during the wake of our dear friend, Brandon.  He reminded me of what an important role I had played in Brandon's life. I also have experienced numerous exciting times with Peter, such as the time I drove with him and Emma Hayes to Indianapolis to catch a FC Indiana vs. Chicago Gaels game.  These moments with Peter and many more in between have taught me the importance of wearing my heart on my sleeve, maintaining friendships with those around me, and possessing a passion and desire for whatever work that sits in front of me, whether it be blogging, running a supporters group, or my 9-5 desk job. 

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2010 WPS Draft & Puma Party Highlights

WPS 2010 Draft Roundup

The last few days have been pretty busy for the Chicago Red Stars, which makes up for the feeling of slowness during the off-season. Here's a brief rundown of what's happened:

Cristiane in, Jönsson out: The Brazilian sensation is back for another season with the Red Stars. I was a bit nervous with her being loaned out during the offseason, but I'm glad she's back. The downside is that starting goalkeeper Caroline Jönsson was released from her contract. Her keeping got mixed reviews, but I felt she did a good enough job to keep the Red Stars in games and was the bright spot in a shaky defense.

Tarpley Traded: Olympic gold medalist/All-Everything Lindsay Tarpley was traded to downstate rivals St. Louis Athletica for their reserve goalkeeper, Jillian Loyden. Loyden had the unenviable job (for multiple reasons) of playing second string to Hope Solo. Hopefully this will work out well for the Red Stars.

Along with all of the off-season activity, it seems that the Red Stars are going "young and fast." This should match with Coach Emma Hayes' preferred style of attacking.

Today was the WPS 2010 draft, and while I cleverly pretended that I was working at my desk, I followed the draft on Twitter. I admittedly didn't know anyone other than the big names in women's college soccer, so it was fun to Google them after they were drafted, and learn more about them.

The Red Stars' first round pick (4th overall) was Whitney Engen from University of North Carolina. She was the first defender of the draft, and is helping shore up the defense. It will be interesting to see what she can bring to the Red Stars.
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Cristiane is back to sweet home Chicago

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I am really excited to be able to return to the Chicago Red Stars; they have treated me very well," Cristiane said. "I look forward to helping my team win the league this year. I had many options, but in the end I chose Chicago and the Red Stars because they are a great team, and it feels like home.

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[Red Stars Re-Sign Cristiane - Chicago Red Stars]

The Hawkins 7: 7 Things I'm Exited About For The 2010 Red Stars

The Red Stars have been busy in the offseason and if you haven't been paying attention, a lot has happened. It makes me feel good about the 2010 season, and like any fan, you want to forget about what happened in 2009 and move forward.

1) The Red Stars picked up Katie Champan from the English National Team/Arsenal Lady Gunners to fill the gap in the midfield caused by the departure of US Olympian Cari Lloyd. I'm excited, and so should you. Coach Emma Hayes is slowing bringing over more players to her style of offense and her playing style.

Speaking of Carli Lloyd, she joined Sky Blue FC and moved home to Jersey, where hopefully she'll continue her WPS playing style of being immobile, lackluster and bored in the midfield. She's also be closer to try out for next year's cast of "Jersey Shore." Honestly, I feel she was a great disappointment. Is it wrong to expect that if you're an Olympian, you should be leading by example and showing your team what it's like to win - or even play with pride?

2) Pining for 'Pinoe: Megan Rapinoe was a bright spot for the 2009 team, and as the season progressed she got stronger and fiercer. It seemed like she got more confident and proved that her surgically repaired knees were strong enough to take on any team. With the return of Brazilian star Cristiane in doubt and Lindsay Tarpley's injury recovery, she very well could be the key to a strong start this year.

3) The Rise of Ella and Brittany: Ella Masar, the U of Illinois product and Brittany Klein - two of the bright spots of the 2009 team, both got called up to the US Women's National Team. I like them both - they're young, they're hard workers and play fearlessly, not to mention they're absolutely great people. As a fan, you want to see good people represent your home club.

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Q + A: Sophie Reiser - A college senior's experience at the Red Stars combine

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sophie Reiser, a senior at Columbia University, who was in town to participate in the Chicago Red Stars combine.  She was kind, out-going and easy to talk with.  After seeing how enthusiastic she was about her experience in Chicago I asked if she'd be willing to answer a few questions about her participation in the combine. She was more than happy to share the details of her Red Stars' adventures with me.      


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Sophie Reiser


Age: 21


College: Columbia University (NY)


Position: Forward and midfield in college


Clubs: Seattle Sounders, Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues, and New York Athletic Club in the summers but none consistently  




How did you hear about the Red Stars combine?

I heard about the Red Stars combine from Coach Hayes. I expressed a great deal of interest in playing for the Red Stars throughout this past season, so Coach Hayes thought it would be a good idea for me to come out to Chicago and see if I have what it takes.


What made you want to come to Chicago to try out and/or participate in the combine?

I wanted to come try out for Chicago because I had heard great things about the coaching staff, and Coach Hayes in particular. I haven't spent much time in Chicago, but living in Seattle and New York, I think it would be a great fit for me. I think the team has a great spirit and a ton of potential and I would love to be a part of that.


For those of us not familiar with a combine- would you be able to give us a general description of what exactly a combine is?  

This combine was pretty straightforward. There were six teams of about 10 players each and about 10 goalkeepers. The first day consisted of teams playing against each other and a bit of skill work with the ball. The second day we warmed up with the Red Stars' strength and conditioning coach, Coach Scott, and then got into some testing. They tested us on sprints, our vertical jump, and the 300-yd shuttle. In the afternoon we broke into the same teams and got to play again. The games were usually around 25 minutes.


There were about 10-15 coaches from around the area (various colleges and clubs) managing the teams, taking notes, and generally scouting the play. The players were a combination of college graduates and current college seniors from all over the country - probably about 75 players in all.  

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The Red Stars wish their fans a happy holiday season

On Wednesday I received a Chicago Red Stars e-newsletter that wished their fans a happy holiday season.  If you're signed up for the Red Stars newsletter, which you should be, it is likely that you've already seen this Red Stars snowman supporter.  In any event, I couldn't resist sharing this cute little guy with the rest of you.

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girlinks - december 19th edition

Friends of the Red Stars

Red Stars look to regroup in 2010 - Red Stars GM Marcia McDermott reflects back on the ups and downs of the Red Stars inaugural season in an interview with Soccer Hype blogger Giovanni Albanese Jr.  She also expresses hopefulness for the 2010 team with players like Katie Chapman and Kate Markgraf, who will likely join the starting eleven. [Soccer Hype]

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Lindsay Tarpley

WPS Chicago Red Stars' Tarpley Is Female Soccer Player of the Decade -  Lindsday Tarpley and Heather O'Reilly were finalists for the Girl Soccer Player of the Year award from ESPN Rise.  Tarpley edged out O'Reilly not only because of her commitment and hard work on the field but because of her dedication to the game off the field. During her junior and senior seasons, she served three-game suspensions for violating a state association out-of-school participation rule while playing for the U.S. youth national team. She petitioned the state, which ultimately changed its stance on the issue for her and future players in her state. [Bleacher Report]

No down time for the Red Eleven: Team busy during offseason preparing for second summer at Benedictine - The Red Eleven, who are a part of the developemental W-league, hope to improve in the 2010 season after a disappointing loss in first round of the playoffs this year (the Red Eleven were 10-2-1 in 2009).  They've already scored a new head coach David Nikolic and a new assistant coach Greg Muhr. [Naperville Sun

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Chicago Red Stars-in haiku

 
CHICAGO RED STARS-IN HAIKU
 
snow falls, powder blue
spring calls on the winter wind
soccer coming soon
 
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Chicago Red Stars Home Opener- Saturday, April 17

girlinks - december 9th edition

Friends of the Red Stars

  • 2009 Chicago Red Stars Combine - Players from across the country will show off their skill for head coach Emma Hayes and the rest of the Red Stars coaching staff on Thursday, December 10th at Max McCook Indoor Facility in hopes of catching her eye and scoring a spot on the Red Stars 2010 roster.  [Chicago Red Stars Facebook Page]

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  • WPS Features Three Finalists for FIFA World Player of the Year Award - On December 7th FIFA announced the finalists for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year Award, which included three WPS players: Cristiane (Chicago Red Stars), Marta (LA Sol) and Kelly Smith (Boston Breakers). [Women's Professional Soccer]

  • life in the red stars annex - Want to know what a day in the life at the Red Stars office is like? Get a look on the inside from Red Stars staffer Alyse LaHue. [WPS Fan Corner - Alyse LaHue]

Keep reading...
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Red Stars Rumors: Sweden's Kosovare Asllani en route to Chicago

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Yesterday the Chicago Red Stars announced the signing of England's Katie Chapman to their 2010 roster.  Today rumors have started to spread about another international player signing that could be in the works for the Red Stars with Sweden's Kosovare Asllani

Asllani made her debut for the Swedish national team in 2008 and was called up to play with them this summer during the UEFA Euro Cup.  She has been with her current club, Linkopings FC, for two years and has tallied 18 goals in 37 appearances with them.  This could be exactly what the Red Stars need now that Carli Lloyd has secured a position with Sky Blue FC, Lindsay Tarpley is still rehabbing her injury, and with the uncertainty of Cristiane returning next season.  

Until official confirmation is published via the WPS, I guess we'll have to wait patiently to find out if Asllani will join the Stars in 2010.  

Have a look at this fun video clip of Asllani below:




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Katie Chapman! Can I get a heck yeah?

The Chicago Red Stars have signed Arsenal and England National Team midfielder Katie Chapman to their roster for the upcoming 2010 season.  Chapman will bring leadership to the squad, as she has accumulated 73 international caps since joining the team in 2000.  Read more about Chapman's signing with the Stars here

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Katie Chapman training for the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Women's 2009 Euro Cup. [Photo Credit: England Women's Team Facebook profile]


USWNT defeat Germany 1-0; Masar collects her first cap

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Ella Masar pictured training with the USWNT. Masar saw playing time in the 2nd half of the US's game against Germany yesterday. [Photo Credit: http://womentalksports.com/twitter]

Yesterday the US Women's National Team played in front of a crowd of 30,000 in Augsburg, Germany defeating the German National Team with a score of 1-0 with a goal from Abby Wambach in the first half. 


Here are some thoughts from U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage on playing in a World Cup-like environment and looking towards the future: 

"We had 30,000 watching this came and my communication with the players is very hard, but it's good to practice that going into the World Cup 2011. There are certain things in the midfield we need to improve. When we make the decisions, sometimes its really good, but sometimes not so good. Sometimes we kept possession and played some pretty nice soccer, however, we couldn't execute in the final third. It's not only about the final pass, but also decision-making as well and that's something we will go back and look at it because to be successful we have to do that better."  [Post-Match Quote Sheet: USA 1, Germany 0 - US Soccer]

What's most excited for Red Stars fans is that forward, Ella Masar, received her first cap with the team yesterday.  She subbed in for Amy Rodriguez of the Boston Breakers in the 73rd minute of play.  
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A Chicago Native Finds Her Way Back Home

A few months ago I found myself facing a huge decision. Who do you cheer for when your hometown team is playing a team with a close family friend? How do you bring yourself to cheer against your home town? Let me tell you its not easy. But when the family friend is someone you have great respect for, it's all worth it. The stained blue skin from crayola finger paint, because thats all you could find, the disgusting man voice the next day from screaming until you had nothing left, the text messages that said people at home heard you on tv, even being shown on the jumbo-tron at Toyota Park a thousand times in orange[not the color of your home team], its all worth it.

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Julianne Sitch and Katie Ibarra after SBFC beats CRS 2-0

Julianne Sitch was signed with New Jersey Sky Blue last season. Not the first choice for me, or the rest of her family and friends im sure, but an amazing experience for her. Not many players can say they were on the 2009 championship team the inaugurual season of WPS.

I was beyond excited the day I heard Julianne, better known as Lu around here, would be returning to Chicago to play for the Chicago Red Stars. Lu was my U15 soccer coach and has remained apart of my life in the years since then. She is someone I will always look up to and respect. Why wouldn't I? Look how far she has gotten in her life, it's every young female soccer players dream! I can only hope to be as successful as she is one day. Im not just saying we were close, we really were! Sitch showed up at my house, unannounced, when she heard my Mom was making tacos for my friends and I for my birthday! She  then stayed to play DDR  (Dance Dance Revolution) with us in my basement. Not something someone would do unless you had an awesome relationship with them.

I think I speak for all all of Lu's family and friends when I say I know she will do a tremendous job representing Chicago in the coming 2010 season. I personally can not wait for the day she puts on that Chicago uniform and steps out on to Toyota Park. It will be a day full of crayola finger paint, obnoxious screaming teenagers, and jumbo-tron action we will never forget.

Congrats Lu! Were all looking forward to seeing you in Chicago! and......Welcome Home!

Looking back on the 2009 season

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Friends of the Red Stars

USWNT Roster Update For Game Against Germany

In my previous blog entry I stated that Ella Masar would be joining her Chicago Red Stars teammate, Megan Rapinoe, with the USWNT at the end of October in Germany.  However, Rapinoe just recently had arthroscopic surgery on her knee, which will sideline her for a few weeks.  Kacey White of Sky Blue FC will replace Rapinoe, while Masar steps in to fill the shoes of the recently retired Angela Hucles. 

More details can be found at the US Soccer website.

 

Another Red Stars player called up to the USWNT

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Chicago Red Stars player Ella Masar was recently called up to the USWNT.  She'll join teammate, Megan Rapinoe, when the US take on the German Women's National Team in Augsburg, Germany on Octorber 29th.  

Masar is a fan favorite at Toyota Park, as she's an Chicagoland native and a graduate of University of Illinois.  She started five games for the Red Stars this past season and tallied two assists. 

A Twitter update from Red Stars GM Marcia McDermott

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Jill Oakes wins a header in the center of the box. 

Ever wonder what the Red Stars players are up to during the off season? Many of the Red Stars players and staff continuously update their Twitter accounts with updates on what the Red Stars players, coaches, and staff have been doing while preparing for the 2010 season.
Marcia McDermott the GM of the Stars recently updated her Twitter account to update fans on what center back Jill Oakes has been up to.  

@mmcd21 Jill Oakes has been writing some interesting blog posts for prettytough.com. The newest is up. http://tinyurl.com/yjxzczc


Oakes discusses what it's like to be a girlie girl and one of the guys at the same time, writes about life during the off season, and there's an even a look at the beginning of her WPS career last spring.  To read more of her blog entries take a look at PrettyTough.com


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Photo Credit: Chicago Red Stars Flickr Account


Nikki Krzysik says goodbye to Chicago Local 134

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On September 22nd the WPS held their first expansion drafts for two new teams joining the league,  Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat.  Nikki Krzysik was one of two unprotected Red Stars players to be drafted to Independence's roster. (The other Red Stars player to be drafted to Philadelphia was Danesha Adams.)

One of the reasons I'm disappointed to see Nikki go is because she was an incredibly kind individual.  She even went out of her way to post a message on Chicago Local 134's Facebook page to thank the group for their support this year.  (While we all know that kindness is not the quality that makes a soccer team great, it is always nice to know that a good-hearted athlete is wearing your club's jersey.)

I just wanted to thank you guys for all your support throughout our first year. You guys are awesome and I feel so blessed to have started my career off in a place with such supportive and enthusiastic fans. Even though I am starting a new chapter in my career I just wanted to thank all of you for your support throughout the season. Hope to see you guys when we come to Chicago. Thanks again for everything!!!

Nikki

On behalf of Chicago Local 134, I wish Nikki all the best in Philly. Let's cross our fingers for an MLS/WPS double-header next year! 

Have you heard about Rapinoe?

Red Stars player, Megan Rapinoe, has been called up to the USWNT to play against Germany on October 29th.  Check it out

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Megan Rapinoe (right) warms up with the Chicago Red Stars before playing against the Irish National Team this summer.


Nine Players Set to Return for the 2010 Season

This just in from Red Stars headquarters:

The Chicago Red Stars announced Monday that they are picking up the 2010 contract options for nine players for the organization's second Women's Professional Soccer season.

This returning Red Stars group includes defender Marian Dalmy, defender Ifeoma Dieke, midfielder Chioma Igwe, goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson, midfielder Brittany Klein, forward Ella Masar, defender Jill Oakes, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and defender Natalie Spilger. Per team policy, terms of their contracts are not released.

Midfielder Karen Carney, defender Kate Markgraf and midfielder Lindsay Tarpley also are under contract with the Red Stars for the 2010 season.

Chicago returns more than half of last season's squad, including Klein and Rapinoe who were voted to the first-ever WPS All-Star Game, and Jonsson who established WPS records with the most saves in a game (13) and a season (89).  (Red Stars Exercise 2010 Options for Nine Players :: Chicago Red Stars - WPS)

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Does Carli Lloyd have plans outside of the Red Stars for the 2010 WPS season?

I wonder what's in store for the rest of the Stars.  Cristiane? Carli Lloyd?  Will we see either of these ladies on the field for the Red Stars next season?  

As for the returning Stars- welcome back, we're glad to have ya!


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Friends of the Red Stars


International Draft picks being made by Philadelphia and Atlanta today

If you haven't already heard the news, the Chicago Red Stars lost both, Danesha Adams and Nikki Krzysik to the Philadelphia Independence in the Expansion Draft last week. Both ladies will be missed, and we wish them all the best in their soccer playing careers.

In further WPS draft news the WPS International Draft is taking place today for both the Philadelphia Independence and the Atlanta Beat. Both teams will pick up to five international players apiece so that their 2010 rosters will be comparable to the seven WPS teams already in existence. 

Knowledge is Power- More on the WPS Expansion Draft

Friends of the Red Stars

WPS Expansion Draft- Pick 10! (Third Edition)

The WPS Expansion Draft is just around the corner (Tuesday, September 15th), as we welcome the Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat to the league.  Nick Hawkins and Katie I. picked their favorite ten Stars to protect in previous Red Stars Confidential entries (here & here), so I thought I'd share mine with you as well.  

In no particular order...   

1.  Brittany Klein (M): one word- tenacious.  Is there really anything else to say? Klein came in from Santa Clara- she's a tiny little thing and she won ball, after ball, after ball, after ball (oh, you get it) against all the top players in the league. I want anyone with this kid of work ethic and determination on the team I support. 


2.  Frida Ostberg (D/M) : Frida is a feisty fighter just like Klein or maybe it should be the other way around, since Frida is the Swedish veteran that the Stars look to for leadership. 


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Cristiane dribbles though the defense of the Ireland National Team. Her knack for finding the back of the neck is just what the Red Stars need to be successful in 2010. 

3.  Cristiane (F): Chicago's own Miss Brazil was injured at the beginning of the season, but once she found her footing on the field she started beating defenders left & right while finding the back of the net.


4.  Karen Carney (M): Carney impressed me in a major way this year. If she's back next year, I hope she can find a similar connection with her Chicago teammates like he one she has with the English National Team.  She was quite impressive during Euro Cup 2009.  I expect more assists and goals from Kaz if we see her in 2010.


5.  Megan Rapinoe(M) : Pinoe is a fan favorite and is quickly establishing herself as a star of the USWNT.  She has fancy foot skill and a killer cross.  She has proven she is able to set players up and score goals- hopefully she can execute in higher numbers next year.  Is anyone else still daydreaming about her bicycle kick attempt at the beginning of the season?


6.  Caroline Jonsson (GK): Carre has one it takes to be one of the top keepers in the league. I could be biased, but I thought she was already one of the top goalies this past season.  She needs a defense to back her up. I hope she's in the net again for us this year with a stronger and possibly faster defense.


(Continued...)

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Pick 10!

An expansion for any league is a good thing. The fans love it, for some it means a team closer to home. But theres one aspect thats not so loved by the fans, or maybe its just me. In the WPS Expansion Draft theres a possibility that an existing team lose 3 players to a new team. Since  existing teams can only lock in ten of their exsisting players that leaves the others up for grabs. Wait one moment though, 10 players? Theres 11 on the field. That means that a coach cant even lock in his/her potential starting lineup. As a fan sitting down to "lock your 10" sounds like fun. Think twice before you do! I cant imagine being a coach, the following are my 10, that took me forever to come up with.

1.You need a goalie, you cant not keep a goalie. The Chicago Red Stars have 3 to choose from, Lydia Williams, Caroline Jonnson, and Jaimel Johnson. All three are amazing at what they do, and being a goalie myself I have the most respect for these women. It's a shame that probably only one of them will be saved. The choice - Caroline Jonnson.  Often reffered to as a "beast, Jonnson has made her mark with Chicago. With game changing saves made last season she is sure to be saved this season. I hope and look forward to seeing her play at Toyota Park again.

2 - 5. Lets face it, the Chicago Red Stars struggled in the defensive area this season. At times they played amazing on the pitch, others you wondered if you were watching the same team that beat the Boston Breakers that night in April, or beat the Regular Season Champs - LA Sol in the last home match of the season. My Choices - Kate Markgraf, after having twins not to long ago the pressure is on for the mom of 3, Olympic gold medalist. Markgraf is sure to make our eyes open wide as she brings her skill to the field. Natalie Spilger, anyone who says Nat didnt preform last year must not have watching the same games I was. From running down Abby Wambach to "catapulting"[may be known as a flip throw to some of you] a ball into the 18, there was no question that Natalie would be on this list. With her GreenLaces program this is an athlete who loves what she does on and off the field. Frida Ostberg, even with the rumors going around that she is on the edge about returning, Frida is a player that always preforms to her highest level and deserves to be back next season. Last, but certainly not the least important, Nikki Krzysik. I dont care how many yellow cards she recieved, this girl plays her rear end off every minute! Shes not just on this list because shes my adopted player, shes on this list because like the rest she has made a diffrence. Its not about how many minutes you play its about the heart you put in while your playing. There was certainly a love and passion for the game when Nikki stepped on the field.

6 - 8.  Anyone who can run the length of the field for 90 minutes deserves a pat on the back. Chicago's midfield did better then the forwards at times this season. It takes alot to play the whole field, but obviously size isnt what were talking about. Brittany Klein, the 5 foot wonder. Size clearly doesnt matter in the game of soccer. Brittany beat some of the best players in the world to be second in assists this season. Making the game enjoyable, I hope to see Brittany back in Red Stars gear next season. Megan Rapinoe, 'nuff said. Her name brings chills. Her one v ones, amazing runs, I would be scared to take on Pinoe! The girl deserves to be back, lets face it, one day she'll be on the starting lineup for the national team. Jill Oakes, listed as a midfielder but played as a defender at times. That doesnt matter though, what matters is the girl can play! She knows what shes doing out there, and I believe she could be key to putting some balls in the back of the net this next season.The California native deserves just as much as anyone else to be on the field in Red Stars Gear.  

9 - 10. With only 18 goals this season you have to look and see where the majority of those goals came from.With a combined 11 goals, there is not a doubt in my mind these two will be back next season. Cristiane, she'll make you dance! Not just on the field but off too! With 7 goals, and an uncountable number of moves if shes isnt representing the Chicago flag, like she proudly did after her hat trick, it will be a major disappointment. Lindsay Tarpley, a gold medalist and second in goals, theres not a doubt in my mind she loves the game. I love watching Tarps play, theres something about her style of play that just makes your jaw drop.

With that said, who would I save should we lose a player?

Ella Masar, sadly theres not enough room for her in the ten but she would be the first I would save. Even if she did give me a hard time about not adopting her, you have to love Ella.

Heather Garriock, I feel like we didnt see enough of Heather this season. From what I have seen before, the girl knows how to play. Shes deserves a chance, I think she could really make a diffrence on the field for us.

WPS Expansion Draft is said to take place Tuesday. We shall see what happens!

England lose to Germany in Euro Cup Final

England lost to Germany Thursday in the Euro Cup 2009 Final with a score of 6-2.  Red Stars' own Kaz Carney tallied for England in the first half.  Hats off to both teams for putting on an impressive goal scoring display- check out all the goals and the award ceremony in Little Miss Soccer's video below.

Find more videos like this on Little Miss Soccer Players Lounge






Friends of the Red Stars

Red Stars Rumors

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Caroline Jonsson makes a save for the Red Stars as Frida Ostberg tracks back to help defend. 

It's about that time of year when rumors start spreading about which players will be staying with their current teams, which players will be leaving the league or looking for another WPS team to join. I just read on Women's Soccer USA blog that some of my favorites might be on their way out the door- say it ain't so!  

Carli Lloyd of the US Women's National Team is one of the players rumored to be omitted from the Red Stars roster come next spring. It sounds as though head coach, Emma Hayes, wasn't particularly fond of her play this year.  I can hardly blame Hayes, though Lloyd did pick up towards the end of the season.  Is it enough to keep her on the roster for the 2010 season?

Miss Ostberg, Miss Jonsson, Cristiane- please please don't go! I'm begging you so. 

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For more on the Red Stars rumors posted in this entry click here.

England moves on to the Semi-finals

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Here's Red Stars player Karen Carney in training before England's match against Finland in the Quarter-finals. England defeated Finland 3-2 today and moves on to Euro Cup 2009's Semi-finals, which will take place on Sept 6th & 7th.


Check out video highlights to the game....


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All-Star Highlights and some thoughts from Peter Wilt

Here are 7+ minutes of All-Star action. It's totally worth checking out for the 6 goals alone.


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Tom Dunmore (Editor of Pitch Invasion) and Peter Wilt (President/CEO of the Chicago Red Stars) at a Chicago Local 134 meeting this last fall.

Peter Wilt, President/Ceo of the Chicago Red Stars has been contributing to my friend's blog, Pitch Invasion, on a weekly basis. If you haven't read Peter's contributions at Pitch Invasion yet, it's definitely worth checking out. This week Peter grades the WPS after a year of action comes to a close.

WPS All-Stars defeat Umea IK

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The WPS All-Star team faced Swedish side, Umea Ik yesterday. Umea netted two goals before the All-Star team knew it, but the All-Stars came back to score 4 goals in a row, defeating Umea 4-2. [This photo was borrowed from the Chicago Red Stars Fan Corner Profile // fans.womensprosoccer.com]

Little Miss Klein battled hard and connected well with Christine Sinclair who scored two goals in the early minutes of the second half.  Cristiane and Megan Rapinoe played the full first-half, but were both unable to hit the ball on target (this might be an understatement for Rapinoe).  For more on the game check out the Chicago Red Stars home page.

Surprise, surprise- it's Brittany Klein!

Most women's soccer fans expect Red Stars players such as Carli Lloyd, Lindsay Tarpley, Cristiane, and Megan Rapinoe to get called up to their perspective national team squads, as well as to the WPS All-Star game, but I think few would have expected to hear that Brittany Klein was one of three Red Stars players added to either of these team's rosters.  

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Brittany Klein uses her body to win the ball against FC Gold Pride's forward, Christine Sinclair. 

Klein along with Rapinoe and Cristiane will be making appearances in St. Louis this weekend when the WPS All-Stars play against Swedish league champions Umeå IK. You can watch the game live on Fox Soccer Channel and webcast at womensprosoccer.com on Sunday at 4PM (CT). 

If you follow me on Twitter you might have read my tweet that said: @nikhak you'll never guess which red stars player got called up to the national team.  And of course, it's Klein! Besides for Klein getting called up as a substitute for the inaugural WPS All-Star team- she's also been called up to train with the USWNT along with Red Stars players, Lloyd and Rapinoe.  If training goes well for Klein- it's quite possible she'll earn her first international cap. 

Early on in the season when the Stars played against Sky Blue FC at Toyota Park- Klein quickly became one of my favorite players on the roster.  Sure, it's easy to appreciate the national team talents- Lloyd, Tarpley, Rapinoe- and to love the flare of the international players- Cristiane, Karen Carney, Frida Ostberg, but what about 5'3" Klein previously of Pali Blues and Santa Clara?
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Carney & England fall to Italy in their first Euro Cup match

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Karen Carney and the England National Team weren't celebrating like they are in this photo today. They lost their first match of the women's Euro Cup 2009 to Italy 2-1. England played most of the game with 10 men when Casey Stoney was handed a red in the 28th minute of play. Goals: Williams (England) 38 ', Panico (Italy) 56', Tuttino (Italy) 80' [Photo borrowed from England Women's Team Facebook Page]


Red Stars player, Karen Carney, joins the English National Team for Euro Cup 2009

Karen Carney (also known by teammates as Kaz) will be traveling to Finland this weekend- she and the England National Team take on Italy in Euro Cup 2009 play for their first match of the tournament. 

Check out this video of Kaz's teammates sharing their thoughts on the tournament. I mean, after all, who doesn't love a British accent?


Correction: England's first match is actually on Tuesday, August 25th against Italy.

CBS News Boston reports on the WPS

Check out this CBS News video highlight with an interview of Boston Breakers player, Kasey Moore. Moore expresses her experiences of the 1999 World Cup Championship and its influence on her as a young player, the fold of the WUSA, and how her dreams have come true with the rebirth of women's professional soccer via the WPS.


Watch CBS Videos Online

The Red Stars' kits and iconicity

I'm really excited to share this post with everyone. It's written by my friend, Ted Harwood. He too, is a big footy (soccer) lover. You can check out other pieces by Ted & friends at their shared blog, Running Downhill (topics range from cinema to sports).
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On a global basis, no sport's uniforms have a larger financial or cultural impact than do soccer uniforms.  Just ask the giant piles of cash that Real Madrid raked in after the Zidane/Beckham/Kaká/Ronaldo signings, the numerous different blogs dedicated solely to kits current, future, and historical, and the goalscorers who kiss the badge sewn onto the front of their shirt as they wheel away in joy.  Uniforms mean a lot in soccer, but supporters often have to face the facts that their teams' kits are often somewhat questionable as fashion statements.

Thankfully, the WPS, and especially the Red Stars, have absolutely nailed the whole kit thing for their inaugural season.  The WPS Puma kits are all simple, uncluttered designs, well-tailored, and look sharp as heck.  Only the Chicago kits deviate significantly beyond the solid-color design, though, and they do it in a way that is more than just pleasing to the eye (which they are).

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The flag of the City of Chicago is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city, but (and this bit is maybe crucial) only really to the citizens of the city itself.  Anyone living in the city has seen the sky blue and white flag with the four red stars hanging on the front of every building downtown, tattooed on their friend's arm, and flying in front of every courthouse and city building, but most people outside of the city probably have never seen it before (unless they're WPS fans!)  The Red Stars' kit manages to maintain the simple, not-busy design of all the WPS kits while simultaneously injecting a sharp, instantly recognizable symbol that has the power to catalyze home support in a way that, say, the Boston Breaker's plain blue shirts cannot, slick as they look.

The new England kits and the new Man City kits are bringing back a more tailored, simple look, which is most welcome after nearly two decades of baggy and nigh-horrifying kits (athletic uniforms for both men and women should be about underlining and reinforcing the idea that these folks are ATHLETES.  They are in shape, they are healthy; why are we putting them in size 60 garbage bags?).  The Red Stars' kits seem to be part of this growing trend in soccer towards sensible kit design, and for my money (probably literally, pretty soon), they are the best-looking uniforms in American sports right now.

Cristiane battles 9-year-old girl in juggling contest


Meet Red Stars player Nikki Krzysik

When the WPS General Draft was taking place I followed along on twitter (@ChicagoRedStars) to find out what talented players the Red Stars drafted.  Since I had already volunteered to help out with the first ever supporters group (Chicago Local 134) for the team, I sent each newly drafted player an electronic message welcoming them to the team and telling them how excited I was for them to join the Red Stars.  Most of the players sent a simple "thank you" in response, which I genuinely appreciated. 

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Just like all the other newly drafted Red Stars players- I also sent Nikki Krzysik a message wishing her the best of luck throughout the inaugural season.  She went above and beyond and sent me a few sentences telling me how excited she was to be coming to Chicago.  She also hunted down the e-mail address to our supporters group to express her excitement and appreciation.  This girl is one of a kind, and I think you'll truly enjoy the interview with her.

(Disclaimer: This interview was finished before the Red Stars last two matches of the season, which is why there are questions about getting knocked out of the playoffs rather than what it feels like to have the season come to a close. But I think you'll still appreciate it! Also, here's a link to the post leading up to this interview: What would you like to know about Red Stars player Nikki Krzysik?)

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Here we go, here we go, here we go-ohhhh...

1. Just as I asked Chioma, how do you like living in Chicago?
I love living in Chicago. It is such a great city there is always something to do.


2. With Chicago comes awesome, usually fattening food like hot dogs- what do you eat on yours?
I actually haven't had any hotdogs in Chicago yet, but usual just ketchup or chili


3. While we're on the subject of food, what do you typically eat before a game?
I usually will eat either pasta or soup and sandwich.

On to the tough ones...

4. You were Selected in the 2nd round of the WPS General Draft (13th overall) to play for the Red Stars. What were your feelings when you were picked to play for the Red Stars and Emma Hayes?
I was really excited. I couldn't wait for pre-season to start.

5. Being a New Jersey native- were you hoping to be drafted to play for Sky Blue FC?
There was a part of me that would have loved to be home close to my family but I was very excited to come to Chicago.

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Nikki Krzysik subs in for Marian Dalmy during the last home game of the season on August 2nd.

6. The last clubs you played for were the W League's Richmond Kickers and Jersey Sky Blue. From a player's perspective, how does playing in the W League differ from the WPS?
I believe that both leagues are very competitive, but playing for the WPS brings you to the next level.

7. Your Red Stars player profile has you listed as a midfielder- would you consider yourself a midfielder or defender? Which do you prefer playing? And if this is all true, when did you transfer from the midfield position to that of a defender?

I played both midfield and defense growing up and I love to play both. I really like different parts of each position. I like to defend but like the freedom of space from the defense and on the other hand I like that you get to win more 50/50 balls in the midfield and it is easier to get forward.

Continue reading...

Red Stars season comes to an end

The Red Stars played their final match of the year last night in St. Louis and fell to Athletica 2-0 with two goals from Sarah Welsh.  They ended their season with a record of 5-10-5.  

Check out this 2009 Season Recap Thank You Video from the Red Stars. 

Red Stars end their season tonight in St. Louis

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A young fan joins Chicago Local 134 members on a bus ride to the inaugural Red Stars match on April 4, 2009 in St. Louis

The Red Stars play their final game of the season tonight in St. Louis against Hope Solo and the rest of her Athletica squad. It seems like ages ago when I departed on a bus headed to St. Louis with other Chicago Local 134 members, as well as,  Red Stars staff and owners to cheer the ladies on in their inaugural match in April (they defeated St. Louis 1-0 with a second half goal from Lindsay Tarpley).

With momentum on their side after defeating LA Sol 3-1 this Sunday- I hope that the Stars can pull off another moral victory against their midwestern rivals tonight.

Cheers to a bittersweet ending.

Friends of the Red Stars

Stay tuned for an interview with Red Stars player Nikki Krzysik!



2009 WPS All-Star Game- Starting XI Announced. Where are the Red Stars?

I get a lot of my information on the Red Stars and the WPS from twitter (which is a blog post for another time)- just now I caught this tweet: RT @womensprosoccer First XI Selections for 2009 WPS All-Star Game Announced: http://bit.ly/XDDGC.  

The Red Stars have been shut out of the top XI.  I know they ended their season near the bottom of the table, but I'm rather disappointed that Cristiane, Carli Lloyd, Lindsay Tarpley, Megan Rapinoe or Caroline Jonsson couldn't crack the starting XI. I only hope there's room for a few of these Stars to help fill out the rest of the roster.

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WPS All-Star Starting XI. Where are the (Red) Stars? [Image Credit: http://www.womensprosoccer.com]


Red Stars conquer LA Sol in last home match of the season

This Sunday I had the pleasure of witnessing the last Red Stars home game of their inaugural season.  They ended their season by defeating the the top team in the league, LA Sol, 3-1.

SCORING SUMMARY:
1. CHI - Carli Lloyd, 2 (Lindsay Tarpley, 4) 24.
2. CHI - Lindsay Tarpley, 4 (Brittany Klein, 3) 47.
3. LA - Han Duan, 3 (Shannon Boxx, 3) 90.
4. CHI - Cristiane, 7 (Ella Masar, 2) 90+.


This game wasn't much more than a game of pride for the Red Stars, as they fell short of a spot in the playoffs by losing to the Freedom 3-2 the week before (LA has already clinched a spot in the WPS championship match).  It was, however, a great way for the Stars to end their season.  As a Red Stars supporter I think they have proved that even though they didn't manage to land a spot in the playoffs this year- that they could still come out and play an entertaining, well played game of soccer.

If you weren't able to attend this match, check out highlights here.

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The Red Stars thank their fans after their final home game this season. The Red Stars played in front of the third largest WPS crowd this season with 7,959 people in attendance.


CHICAGO RED STARS COACH EMMA HAYES
We showed this time when we got a goal against us that we had enough character to go straight down the other end and get the winner.  I think there's credit to the team to show their character in a game on some levels in meaningless to us at least because we're out of the playoffs.  For me, that will be the benchmark moving forward.  This is a building platform for next year so I am happy with the result.  (Chicago Red Stars press release)

Red Stars final home game of the 2009 season

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The Red Stars may not have qualified for a spot in the playoffs this season- but that's no reason to sit at home this Sunday- LA Sol is in town! Two talented Brazilians, Marta (LA Sol) and Cristiane (Chicago Red Stars), are ready to go head to head one last time this season.  It's a game not to be missed!

Join the supporters group, Chicago Local 134, as they cheer on the Stars one last time this year at Toyota Park in section 119.

The 411 on the Red Stars vs Sol
  • LA Sol has the best record (11-2-5) in the WPS and has scored a spot in the WPS Championship game
  • The Red Stars tied LA 1-1 and lost to them 4-0 in previous matches earlier in the season
  • Marta has been the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2006, 2007, 2008
  • Cristiane has been the third place FIFA World Player of the Year in 2007, 2008
Friends of the Red Stars
  • Cristinae squares off vs. Marta [ESPN]
  • WPS Brazilian battle: Red Stars' Cristiane vs. L.A. Sol's Marta [Examiner]
  • Red Stars order the filet à Sol [American Soccer News]

 

Sky Blue FC on their third coach for the inaugural WPS season

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In May of this year the original Sky Blue FC head coach and general manager, Ian Sawyers, was fired, while assistant coach, Kelly Lindsey stepped in as his replacement in an interim role before officially filling the role as head coach of this New Jersey WPS squad in June. (To read more on Sawyers' termination go here.)

I was just checking my twitter feed (@nikhak), and I came across a retweet from my friend @pitchinvasion, who reposted this tweet: @bdure_usat Shocker in #WPS: Sky Blue is on its third coach. Kelly Lindsey resigned yesterday; Christine Rampone will be player/interim coach.

Is it true- has Lindsey sent in her resignation already?  Why is player, Christine Rampone, stepping up to fill the position as head coach and not assistant coach, Joe Dorini?

Something doesn't seem quite right...

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It should be noted that Chicago Red Stars assistant coach, Denise Reddy, was the assistant coach to Sky Blue FC before relocating to Chicago last fall.  

What would you like to know about Red Stars player Nikki Krzysik?

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Nikki krzysik beats a St. Louis Athletica player to the ball in the Red Stars inaugural match this April.

Clifton, NJ native, Nikki Krzysik, was drafted to the CRS in the 2nd round of the WPS General Draft. She has started nine games for the Stars so far this season and collected the first ever yellow card in team history against St. Louis in the inaugural match. Even though she might draw a yellow every now and again on the field- she's one of the sweetest people I have crossed paths with and has agreed to do an interview with me. 

What do you want to know about Nikki?  Do you want to know what music she listens to before a game?  Or if she has any game day superstitions?   Leave questions in the comment section below, and as always, I'll pick a minimum of three to us for my interview with Nikki. ChicagoNow is undergoing upgrade construction today, so if you're having a hard time leaving a comment in the comment section, please send an e-mail to ChicagoLocal134@gmail.com with all of your interview questions.  Deadline for questions is 5PM today (Wednesday, July 29th).

The Hunt's Over

All playoff hopes were dashed this weekend when the Red Stars fell 3-2 against the Washington Freedom. The game started on a good note - Megan Rapinoe scored early in the game on a dominating attack, absolutely leaving her defender in the dust. The Freedom answered with back to back goals from Abby Wambach and eventually, Karen Carney tied the game up at the 69th minute, giving the Red Stars a glimmer of hope that they could put one more in the net to get three points and remain in the hunt for the final playoff spot. However, Allie Long broke the will of the Red Stars by putting a well-placed shot in the net at the 89th minute.

 

With two games left in the season, the Red Stars face first place LA Sol and Brazilian sensation Marta this Sunday. Hopefully, the team can manifest its disgust and frustration into something productive. The last meeting in LA resulted in a 4-0 loss for the Red Stars. The cliche is that the team is playing for pride - but I don't think it's that. It's about redemption.

 

However, as a fan, I'm not pessimistic at all. Disappointed, yes, but not pessimistic. The Red Stars/Freedom match drew over 5000 fans, which was nice to see. Megan Rapinoe has started to make her presence known at forward and is worthy of the first round pick in the draft. Natalie Spilger has stepped up her defense, earning a spot in the starting lineup. Brittany Klein has shown serious potential in the midfield, a spot that she'll lord over in years to come. And Caroline Jönsson has shown that she'll be able to make the saves provided she's got support.

 

There's still games to go, and momentum to build.

 

Red Stars vs Washington Freedom today at Toyota Park

What are you doing this Sunday summer afternoon?  Head on out to Toyota Park to see the Chicago Red Stars host the Washington Freedom at 3PM (Central). The Red Stars only have three games remaining this season and they're still striving to reach a position in the WPS playoffs. 

Red Stars are going green
The Red Stars will be doning green jerseys this game in an effort to raise awareness about recycling and protecting our Earth. Fans can bid on these special jerseys at a silent auction held throughout the game at the Red Stars Charitable Foundation tent on the Northeast concourse. The Red Stars will also be rewarding all drivers of hybrid vehicles that are driven to the game by taking $5 off parking. In addition, Citizen's Utilty Board will be handing out energy efficient light bulbs to all fans at the end of the game. Repurpose an old shirt and give it a new life!  Bring a shirt to the game and get it screen printed at the GreenLaces booth! (Red Stars go Green)
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Red Stars still fighting for playoff position

Tomorrow the Red Stars will come head to head with the Washington Freedom for the fourth time this season.   The Red Stars are 1-0-2 in the series and are looking for another win against the Freedom, which would put both Chicago and Washington at 20 points apiece in the league standings, just two points out of the fourth and final playoff spot.

Chicago vs Washington 2009
April 11th @ Washington, 1-1
June 13th @ Washington, 0-0
July 1st @ Chicago, 2-1 (Chicago victory)

This is a WPS battle that shouldn't be missed, as the Stars have been handed their only two red cards (Frida Ostberg and Karen Carney) this season vs this Washington team. And the Freedom's Abby Wambach will be coming out strong after the excitement of her 100th career goal with the USWNT this last week against Canada. 

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Megan Rapinoe crosses the ball against the Freedom the last time these two teams faced off at Toyota Park in July. 


USWNT Sweeps Canada

The USWNT played their third and final game of their summer series against Canada last night in Charleston, SC and defeated Canada 1-0 with a goal from Christine Nairn in the 89th minute. Red Stars players, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Lindsay Tarpley all started for the US squad.

Earlier in the series the US destroyed the Canadians 4-0 on May 25th in Toronto and 1-0 on July 18th in Rochester, NY.  The loan goal on July 18th was the 100th USWNT career goal scored by Washington Freedom's Abby Wambach, while both Rapinoe and Tarpley netted goals for the US side in Canada on May 25th.

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With that said, I'm off to Soldier field to watch the USMNT play against Hondoras in the Gold Cup Semifinal. You can find more game information here.  And also check out this interview with Chicago Fire's Logan Pause, who has made his dbeut with the USMNT during this tournament.  

WPS All-Star Voting

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[Image Credit: www.womensprosoccer.com]

The Women's Professional Soccer All-Star game will be hosted by St. Louis.  It will take place on August 30, 2009 in the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo, versus elite Swedish club Umeå IK.

WPS All-Star Voting began on July 17th but will continue until July 31st. All-Star voting allows you to vote for (1) goalkeeper, (3) defenders, (5) midfielders, and (2) forwards.  The WPS ballot also gives a great option to write-in your favorite player.  This is especially helpful for those of you who have a favorite player that isn't originally listed on the ballot. 

The WPS All-Star team will be selected by late July in the following way:

11 players - Vote counting 25% fans, 25% media, 25% players, 25% coaches
7 players - At-Large Selections (WPS Commissioner and All-Star Head Coach)

In a unique twist for the first year of the WPS All-Star Game, the All-Star Team head coach will be voted on collectively by the players with the announcement coming in late July.(www.womensprosoccer.com)

More on All-Star voting... 
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Red Stars hopes of landing a spot in the playoffs fade

The Red Stars played Sky Blue FC on Sunday and were missing several starters- Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsay Tarpley and Karen Carney- all out due to national team call ups. Because of this, the Red Stars had an opportunity to start players who typically only see playing time for the last 10-20 minutes of the game.  Both, Danesha Adams and Ella Masar, started up top with Cristiane, while Lydia Vandenbergh started as an outside back on the defensive end.

The Red Stars had several scoring opporutnities, including two rockets from Adams and a header from midfielder, Chioma Igwe, that went just wide of the goal.  In the end, the Stars were never able to capitalize on their scoring opporutnities, this seems to be the sad story of their season, as Sky Blue FC scored the only goal of the game in the 91st minute of play.

Chicago only has three games remaining this season.  They'll need to get wins in all three games, plus additional luck from the rest of the league to even dream of making the playoffs.  But anything is possible in the game of soccer, right?

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Friends of the Red Stars

Red Stars interview: Chioma Igwe

In May, I had the opportunity to tag along with Red Stars staff and players at a Cubs
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Chioma Igwe goes in for a hard tackle against the Boston Breakers

game. Red Stars players- Lindsay Tarpley, Megan Rapinoe, Lydia Williams, and Chioma Igwe- lead Wrigley Field in the Seventh-inning stretch that day, and I had the fortune of meeting these wonderful ladies.  I sat next to Igwe during the game and chatted with her as I tried to pay attention to what was happening on the field (sorry, baseball lovers!). 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'd be interviewing Igwe.  This is my first interview, so I apologize for the delay.  Igwe was more than happy to answer questions so her fans could get to know her better.  Here's more on the Red Stars fourth round draft pick, Chioma Igwe.

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Here we go, here we go, here we go-ohhhh...


1. First and foremost, how do you like Chicago so far?
I actually love it. I was definitely intimidated at first because it snowed the first two months, but even though the weather is unpredictable I think there is so much to do here. I don't feel like I've explored even a quarter of the city and I have been here for about 5 months now.

2. With Chicago comes awesome, usually fattening food like hot dogs- what do you eat on yours?
Ketchup, mustard AND relish... Pretty gross I know.

3. While we're on the subject of food, what do you typically eat before a game?
I am not very consistent with my pre-game meals, but Potbelly's, Panera or Subway have yet to fail me.

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On to the tough ones...

4. What were your feelings when you were picked to play for the Red Stars and Emma Hayes?
Too be honest I was shocked even though I had a heads up. The coaches had called me prior to the draft to inform me of their interest, but many of my friends had gotten calls from coaches from numerous teams. It was so tedious to watch the draft online because I had to keep pressing refresh to see the next pick. I was ecstatic to be picked to play for this club, I had heard nothing but good things about Emma and thought the Red Stars were definitely the best team on paper.

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Igwe with the ball against the Breakers

5. You've played defense, center and outside midfield for the Red Stars so far this season- what's your favorite position to play and why?
I LOVE holding mid because it's the position I feel most comfortable in and you get to do a bit of everything. Whether it's distributing the ball, tackling hard or attacking with the offensive players, you get to do a little of everything.

6. You're the first player in the league to accrue four yellow cards and be suspended from a game. How do you feel about that? And what goes through your mind when you go in for a hard tackle?
Hey, At least I made history in the inaugural season of this league, how many people can say they did that? I honestly do not go into a tackle attempting to hurt anyone by any means or to get a card for that matter. I just go in hard because 1. I am just a really intense player 2. Because I really want to win the ball and 3. because I don't want to get myself hurt, the moment you second guess yourself that's when things go wrong.

7. The Stars just recently went through a nine game winless streak. What do you do to stay focused? And the team?
I try and take the season as it comes, game-by-game, day-by-day. I focus on getting better individually and what I can do to help the team be more successful. Whether that's encouraging a teammate or working as hard as I can on the field. We are still in the running for the playoffs and Emma repeats one of her famous quotes to us everyday, "You have to go down to go up" and I truly believe that. We are a team that's dealt with a lot of adversity and those teams are you the ones who end up the most successful.

8. Last year you played soccer for FC Saarbrücken in the German Bundesliga II league. What was the experience in Germany and with a German club like? Sprechen sie deutsche?
I actually did learn a little German while in the country. We had a private tutor come to our apartment about twice a week. Playing overseas in Germany was definitely a great experience because I got to see a different side of soccer. I have played in America my whole life, so my way of thinking was almost one-dimensional. Germany broadened my knowledge of the game and helped me add different aspects that weren't there to begin with, but have helped me to grow as a player.

9. You come from a family of footy players (dad and brothers). How did this influence you as a player?
My dad came from Nigeria, playing for their national team and going to a World Cup and Olympics, to play soccer in college. So of course I was practically born with a soccer ball attached to my foot. He coached both my brother's and I throughout our youths and so I pretty much owe my success to him. My brother's and I would always go out and compete against each other and I think that's what made me a tough player. I hated losing to my brothers... maybe that's why I get so many yellow cards.
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Breakers end Red Stars winning streak

Just when the Red Stars thought they had picked themselves up off the ground, they quickly fall off the victory bandwagon before we even had a chance to finish celebrating history making Cristiane's hat trick.

The Red Stars played in Boston last night and out shot the Breakers 21-11, but they weren't able to finish any of their chances.  Angela Hucles scored for the Breakers in the 35th minute of play and were able to hold on to their 1-0 until the final whistle.
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Friends of the Red Stars


Red Stars aim for another win in Boston tonight

The Chicago Red Stars play the Boston Breakers tonight at 6PM (CT) at Harvard Stadium.  After winning their last two home games, the Stars are looking to gain a third consecutive win. This game will not be televised but most often you can follow the RS matches via Twitter @ChicagoRedStars.

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[Image Courtesy of Pott Rodriguez] The CRS are on top of the world after ending their 9 game winless streak and winning two consecutive games at home.


More on the Red Stars this week:

Cristiane is RED HOT!

Cristiane's history making hat-trick on Sunday made her a perfect candidate for WPS player of the week. This is the second consecutive week that a Red Stars player has won this honor.

Here's a look at Cristiane's goals through photos:

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Cristiane scores her first goal of the match against FC Gold Pride with a penalty kick. This was the first goal via a penalty kick in Red stars history.


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Cristiane receives an amazing ball from Rapinoe, beats the keeper, and the ball makes it's way through FC Gold Pride defenders


More photos...

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Red Stars strive for 3 points against FC Gold Pride on Sunday

We're not frowning anymore!

After Chicago defeated Washington last week the Red Stars are hopeful that they'll make a run for a spot in the playoffs late in the season.

The Chicago Red Stars take on FC Gold Pride this Sunday at Toyota Park at 7PM.  Come cheer them on, as they fight for a win that could push them closer to playoff contention. (Red Stars Look to Continue Playoff Push vs. FC Gold Pride Sunday)

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[Image Courtesy of Pott Rodriguez]


Tarpley, Rapinoe and the LA Sol

Lindsay Tarpley named WPS player of the week

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[Photo Courtesy of the Chicago Red Stars- David Durochik]

Red Stars and USWNT player, Lindsay Tarpley, was named WPS player of the week.  Tarpley is one of Chicago's two captains and had an outstanding performance against the Washington Freedom last week, scoring the game winner in the 61st minute of the match.

Related link: Lindsay Tarpley Named WPS Player of the Week




We love Megan Rapinoe!


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[Image Courtesy of Pott Rodriguez]

Megan Rapinoe is the ruby slippered stud of the Red Stars. Remember when she pulled out that killer byicle kick that just missed the net in the beginning of the season? It was great!

Rapinoe was the second player overall to be drafted in the WPS draft- the first pick for the Red Stars.  She is also a member of the USWNT along with WPS player of the week, Tarpley, Carli Lloyd and Marian Dalmy.

Read more of Rapinoe's thoughts on the Red Stars and playing with the women's national team in an interview here: Rapinoe: Red Stars Need to Build on Momentum

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Red Stars player dating an NBA Champion

It's true! Chicago Red Stars' Jill Oakes is dating NBA Champion and LA Lakers' Jordan Farmar. Rumor has it that these two lovebirds met while playing ball at UCLA.

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[Photo courtesy of Pott Rodriguez] Jill Oakes shows love to her fans after a Red Stars game.


If Oakes hopes to celebrate her very own 2009 Championship Season with her man then she and the rest of the Red Stars need to continue to be victorious in their regular season matches, like they were against Washington last week. 

The WPS playoff format secures a spot in the playoffs for the top four teams in the league.  The team with the best overall record in the league automatically qualifies for a spot in the WPS Championship game.  With a record of 11-1-4 the LA Sol have already secured a spot in the Championship game.

Even with one of the four playoffs spots filled, the sixth place Red Stars have six matches left this season.  If they can pull in a few more wins they too may find themselves in the playoffs. And maybe just maybe Oakes and Farmar can show off shiny championship rings together. 

Red Stars Game this Afternoon! 3PM

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The Chicago Red Stars take on the Republic of Ireland this afternoon at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL at 3PM. Representing Ireland will be Red Stars' very own, Mary Therese McDonnell, who is also a member of Ireland Senior National Women's Squad.  For more information on the game and where to get tickets check out the official CRS website

Red Stars vs Freedom- Photo Edition

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Red Stars favorites, Ella Masar and Natalie Spilger, warm up before the Match.

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Cristiane takes on Freedom's keeper, Erin McCleod, in the 1st half. In the early minutes of the 2nd half, Cristiane netted for the Red Stars to tie the game at 1-1. 

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RS defender, Ifeoma Dieke, goes in hard against Freedom and USWNT offensive powerhouse, Abby Wambach.

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V is for Victory!

Yes, they did it!

The Red Stars came back from behind and defeated Washington 2-1.  Thank goodness for a victory at home to help end a nine match winless streak. 

Here are some other facts from last night's match at Toyota Park:

The Red Stars came out strong at the beginning of the match with shot after shot at the Freedom's goal. However, they were unsuccessful in finding the back of the net.  How unlucky could one team be?

In the 34th minute, Abby Wambach scored for Washington with an assist from Lisa De Vanna.  At that moment, the hearts of all the Red Stars fans in attendance sank.  I know mine did.  Would they add a tenth game to their winless streak?

At the very beginning of the second half Cristiane brought hope back to her teammates and fans when she put the ball past Freedom's goalkeeper, Erin McLeod, with an impressive back heel.  The stadium was alive again, and the Red Stars were now tied 1-1.
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9 Games Later

I wish I could say that the Red Stars pulled out of their eight game winless streak and defeated the LA Sol yesterday, but instead they dug a deeper hole and lost to LA Sol 4-0.  The Red Stars have now been winless in nine matches, and they haven't scored a goal in over 400 minutes.   They're last in the league with 11 points, while LA Sol stay at the top of the table with 34 points, although they have played two more games than the Red Stars have so far this season.  But even if the Stars win their next two matches they'll still only have half the total number of points that LA does at 17 points.  

Believe me, I'm just as frustrated as you.  I'm attempting to get into the habit of writing about the team on a regular basis, promoting them as a fan of the women's game, as a lover of Chicago and Chicago sports, as an interim board member of the Red Stars supporters group (Chicago Local 134), but how does one find positive words to say when the stats are clearly so negative?  How do I, the Red Stars team & staff, women's soccer lovers, thousands of female youth soccer players prove to you that the Red Stars are worth supporting? 

The Red Stars' roster is composed of professional female athletes from six different countries (some with dual citizenship).  Seven of these players are or have been members of their national teams.  Four of these ladies play for your very own US Women's National Team.  The Red Stars have the only women head coach (Emma Hayes) in the inaugural season of the WPS.  Red Stars head coach, Emma Hayes, was, until recently, the only woman head coach in the WPS.  (Sky Blue FC just hired Kelly Lindsey to replace original head coach, Ian Sawyer.) This alone should be motivation to want to stand by them, but there's more...

In the last year I have had the pleasure of becoming aquatinted with staff, players, coaches and even the owners of the Red Stars.  Each of them contribute something different to the team.  And in their own ways, every day each one of them is putting forth an effort to make this organization successful.  Their minds are constantly working, constantly contemplating on what they can contribute as individuals and as a team to succeed, to get the word out, to win games.

The players are not only putting time in on the field to become successful players, but they're also making player appearances at various events and helping coach at the Red Stars soccer camps.  The Red Stars front office staff are in the office countless hours a week- promoting, selling tickets, managing, brainstorming. They have caring and supportive owners, who I had the privilege of taking a charter bus to the first ever Chicago Red Stars game with in St. Louis.  What owners in the professional sports world join their fans on a 6 hour bus ride to a game?  It doesn't happen.  That's how special this team is.

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Red Stars owners, staff and players (Chioma Igwe) socialize after an outing to a Chicago Cubs game.


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Can the Red Stars Conquer LA Sol on West Coast Soil?

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The LA Sol are the top team in the WPS and have yet to lose a game at home.  The Red Stars are currently at the bottom of the table- will Chicago break their eight game winless streak giving LA their first loss at home and only their second loss in the season thus far?  Find out by watching the game live at: http://www.losangelessol.com/webcast.  The game start at noon (CT). 

C'mon you Stars!



A Man's Guide to Women's Professional Soccer

"You go to WHAT?" a friend asked me lately. Yes, I proudly attend women's professional soccer games. I'm a fan of the sport. I like it because it's a startup league with some of the world's best players. I like it because the Chicago Red Stars is run by the coolest man around. The US is the dominating country in women's soccer. What's not to like?

"Yes. But are they hot?"

I absolutely hate this question. I do. As much as I'd love to think that one of the amazingly gorgeous players deep down wants a funny fat guy like myself, you sort of have to run away from this topic. Yes, there are good looking players, but I'm there for the game, not to be a dirty old man.

The more I learn about women's sports, the more I realize the fine line between attracting attention to the sport versus attracting the completely the wrong type of attention. It truly is a balancing act. Yes, Heather Mitts is stunningly gorgeous but I don't think she's that great on the field.

What I like about the Red Stars players is, yes, they are gorgeous but they're also good people and people you want to see do well. Natalie Spilger isn't just a fearsome defender, but she's also a brilliant woman whose pet project is Greenlaces, supporting eco-friendly causes. Ella Masar will win you over with her million dollar smile before she drops you on the field - she's one of the toughest forwards I've seen in soccer - both men's and women's.

Sports succeed on the strengths of their gameplay and the friendliness of their athletes. It's what the Chicago Wolves have done. If you want to be a lecher at a game, that's what the Chicago Bliss are for and will be good at for a while. But after they fold, awesome women will still be playing a great game called soccer in Chicago.

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