Red Stars Confidential

WPS Archives

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?

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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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.  

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Friends of the Stars:
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No goals after 20 shots against Sky Blue FC

I was really hoping to watch a victorious Chicago soccer match on Sunday, especially after being on hand to witness the Fire lose their first ever home opener at Toyota Park the night before. Not only was I looking forward to a Red Stars win because I needed my soccer spirits to be lifted after the Fire's disappointing results, but also to prove all the Red Stars haters wrong. Last week I read countless reviews on just how awful everyone seems to think the Red Stars will be this year, and it got old quick.

It turns out that the Fire weren't the only pro soccer team in Chicago to end their weekend in a disappoint, as the Red Stars lost to Sky Blue FC 1-0 with an early goal in the 6th minute from Natasha Kai.

I may be biased, but I'm really excited for the changes that Emma Hayes has made to the roster this season. Sure, we lost USWNT players, Carli Lloyd and Lindsay Tarpley. We lost a standout goalie from Sweden in Caroline Jonsson. We're all unhappy about these loses. (Well, I am mostly sad for the loss of Jonsson, but countless others are heartbroken over USWNT heroes, Lloyd and Tarpley.) But overall, I'm genuinely excited to see what our new Red Stars' players will produce this year - maybe it is the lack of familiarity that has me on the edge of my seat, maybe it's the energy I've seen in Hayes when she talks about new additions to the team such as: Kosovare Asllani, Katie Chapman, Whitney Engen, Jessica McDonald, and countless others, or maybe I'm just genuinely looking forward to a fresh start, a new season.

Oh the anticipation!

Sadly, the first game has come and gone. The Red Stars fought until the final minutes of game that I thought they clearly should have one. In my eyes, they dominated the majority of the game. Of course, not without a challenge, Sky Blue FC is a force to be reckoned with, there is no question in that. But the RS did everything they were supposed to, except... put the ball in the goal, even after collectively taking 20 shots (4 on goal) against Sky Blue.

Game Highlights:

Other thoughts on the game:

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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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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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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


2010 WPS Draft & Puma Party Highlights

girlinks - january 13th, 2010 draft edition

Wow, draft day is finally here, only two short days away. To be completely honest with you, I'm not sure what to expect or think, as I am not all that familiar with many collegiate players.  

I know that Red Stars Confidential contributor, Pott Rocks, is crossing her fingers that Casey Nogueira will find her way onto Chicago's roster.  While I appreciate the enthusiasm she has for Nogueira, I'm still hoping that Emma Hayes will look at players with strong, defensive background rather than  focusing on attacking minded players like Karen Carney, Megan Rapinoe, and Kosovare Asllani.  It's not that I'm not a fan of these creative, quick, skillful players- It's just that right now I have more of a concern for how the creative, quick, skillful opponents of the Red Stars will be slowed down before they go face to face with Caroline Jonsson in net. 

I guess it's only a matter of time before I find out... 

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Caroline Jonsson rescues the Red Stars after Camille Abily of the Los Angeles Sol breaks through the Red Stars defense.


With that said, who do you think the Red Stars will draft?  And which player(s) would you want to see the Red Stars draft?

(Keep reading! Links to several other draft blogs and articles are awaiting 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

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]


Looking back on the 2009 season

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Friends of the Red Stars

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


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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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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WPS Championship video highlights

Between summer gatherings, vacations, and my love for the Chicago Fire and Chicago Red Stars- I haven't been able to catch nearly as many of the WPS matches as I would have liked on television this spring/summer. If you were celebrating summer with a BBQ this weekend or enjoying sunshine at the beach, you can catch the video highlights to Saturday's WPS Championship game here or by reading this review by a special guest blogger.

Friends of the Red Stars

East and west coast teams come head to head in the WPS Championship match

Sky Blue FC shocked the league on Wednesday when they defeated St. Louis Athletica 1-0.  The lone goal came in the 31st minute of play when Yael Averbuch found defender, Keeley Dowling at the top of the box, who hit the ball low and wide as an outstretched Hope Solo was unable to get her hands to this ball.  

Highlights from the game, including Dowlings goal can be viewed here:



Unlikely candidates for the a spot in the WPS Championship match, Sky Blue FC will now travel to LA and battle the Sol this Saturday for the Championship title. The game will be on at 2:30PM CT on FSN and CSN. 

For more on the game read here and here

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Shannon Boxx of the LA Sol and Natasha Kai of Sky Blue FC come head to head tomorrow in the WPS Championship match. [Photo Credit: Women's Professional Soccer]



Tonight- WPS Super Semifinal!

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St. Louis Athletica and Sky Blue FC face off tonight in the WPS Super Semifinals. You can catch the match on FSC at 6PM CT. (The game can also be followed via Match Tracker or Webcast.) The winner of this match will take on LA SOL for the WPS Championship match this Saturday, August 22nd at 4PM CT. 


Friends of the Red Stars
  • Preview: WPS Super Semifinal [WPS]
  • Hanks returns as Sky Blue FC visits Athletica [The Telegraph]
  • WPS Playoff Semifinal: St. Louis vs. Sky Blue FC (A Look Ahead) [Soccer By Ives]

WPS Super Semifinal: Sky Blue FC vs St. Louis Athletica

Sky Blue FC defeated the Freedom 2-1 in the First Round of playoffs on Saturday, August 15th. If you weren't able to watch the game, check out the highlights below, including goals from Natasha Kai and Francielle. Sky Blue FC will now come head to head with St. Louis Athletica tomorrow in the Super Seminfinal in Fenton, MO at 7PM ET. The game will be aired on FSC.

I knew I needed to come in and help the team out and give that extra fire, that spark. Natasha Kai

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

Julianne Sitch represents Chicago in the WPS Playoffs

Since Chicago is out of the playoffs, who are we, Red Stars supporters, supposed to support during the WPS Playoffs?  We can support LA Sol home to Marta, St. Louis Athletica- who has national team standout- Hope Solo, or Washington Freedom with goal scoring sensation- Abby Wambach.  But what about Sky Blue FC?  

Sky Blue FC has the talented Natasha Kai and Heather O'Reilly- not to mention Christie Rampone, who is now the head coach of this east coast squad. A pair of Brazilians (Francielle and Rosana) also grace their side, but lets not forget about the pair of Chicago's young hometown stars, Jen Buczkowski and Julianne Sitch.  

I remember the first time I saw Sitch play.  It was during her days at DePaul University.  She was running around the field like a pirate with one eye patched up after getting hit in the face with the ball, suffering from a badly bleeding eye. Sitch still dominated the field that day- winning every ball, always being in the right place at the right time, and helping string together impressive passes with her teammates.  I was sincerely impressed, and I quickly became one of her biggest supporters. 

With that said, let me introduce you to Ms. Sitch.  I think you'll understand why we should support this Chicagoan as she and Sky Blue FC prepare for the 2009 WPS Playoffs.

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1.  You were Selected in the 5th round of the WPS General Draft (32nd overall) to play for Sky Blue FC. What were your feelings when you were picked to play for Sky Blue FC?  Were you hoping to get drafted to your home town team, the Chicago Red Stars?
I was ecstatic to be picked by Sky Blue FC! Honestly, I was just hoping for the chance to play in the league, but of course Chicago would have been great too because all of my family and friends live there and Chicago will always be home to me.

2.  What was the transition from Division 1 soccer (DePaul University) to W-league (FC Indiana) to the professional ranks like?
Division I soccer is such a unique experience and being a college athlete is a special moment in your career.  Playing in the W-League starts to put together the best and most committed Div I and II players from around the country, as well as, add in an international aspect to the game that raises the bar.  The WPS is the best of the best in my mind.  It is an honor and privilege to play at this level, compete day in and day out with some of the best players in the world, and be challenged everyday to perform at my best.  Everyday is always a challenge and I can honestly say it has brought my game to a higher level.  I believe each level you play at the standards rise, and that has been proven true for me from Division I to the W-League and now the WPS!

3. You've been playing more defensively this year rather than in the midfield.  Has the change in positions been difficult for you?
I wouldn't say it's been difficult, it's just been a challenge never playing in the back before and learning how the back four work. I've had nothing but great leaders who've helped me! I really enjoy playing in the back, it lets you see the game from a whole new perspective and it's only helped my game in a positive way.

4.  Sky Blue FC has gone through three coaches this year- do you prefer one over the other? It is impressive to see a team that has gone through so many transitions in such a short amount of time qualify for the playoffs- how has the dealt with these transitions? And yourself as an individual?
I have really enjoyed all my coaches this year. I have learned a tremendous amount from them as a soccer player and as a person. They have helped me shape my game up and have given amazing feedback which I am so grateful for. Each coach brings a different perspective, so it's been neat to see from coach to coach how things differ. Of course it's affected our team, but I have never been on a team before where every player has showed a tremendous amount of true character and pulled each other together to fight this battle. Ian and Kelly did a remarkable job of putting together a great group of girls and I have nothing but strong belief in this team that we can go all the way!

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5. How have you and your teammates been preparing for the playoffs? Your first game is this Saturday against the Washington Freedom.  If you lose then your season is over, correct? If you win you go on to play St. Louis Athletica.
We have been preparing the same way we have all season, but obviously focusing a bit more on a few specific things we need to do. Yes, our season will be over if we lose Sat, and when we win we'll be heading to St. Louis!

More on Julianne (continued)... 

Continue reading...

WPS Playoffs right around the corner

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This bracket depicts how the WPS Playoffs work. The Freedom play Sky Blue FC this Sunday. The winner of the First Round plays St. Louis Athletica in the Super Semifinal. Finally, the LA Sol (winners of the regular season) will be playing against the the team that wins the Super Semifinal. [Image Credit: Women's Professional Soccer]


WPS First Round

Washington Freedom 

vs. Sky Blue FC

Date: Sat, Aug. 15

Location: Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md.

Tune-In: 4pm ET - FSN 

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[Image Credit: Women's Professional Soccer]


Sky Blue FC player agrees to a Red Stars Confidential interview

I'm rather heartbroken that the Chicago Red Stars didn't qualify for a spot in the inaugural WPS playoffs, but there are still four teams left to battle it out for the championship title.  Sky Blue FC is one of these teams, and I'm excited to announce that Chicago native (Oswego to be exact!), Julianne Sitch of Sky Blue FC has agreed to do an interview with me here at Red Stars Confidential.  

If you follow me on Twitter @nikhak then you would have found out that Julianne agreed to an interview about an hour ago. I've already had tons of question suggestions being sent in for my interview with her.  Here are some of the questions I've brainstormed as well as other fan recommendations that will be sent to Julianne:

  • What WPS stadium is your least favorite to play in? Most favorite? Why?
  • Were you hoping to get drafted to the Red Stars?  What do you miss the most about home?
  • Did you ever date Billy Blue Demon?
  • Do you spend time at the shore? 
  • What was the transition from Div 1 soccer to W-league to the professional ranks like? 
  • You've been playing more defensively this year rather than in the midfield.  Has the change in positions been difficult for you?
  • Three coaches this year- who is your favorite? Has it been a struggle for the team to go through each one of these transitions?  How has it effected the team and you, individually?
  • How hard it is to play in her home town (Chicago) in front of her home fans from Oswego?
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I'm planning on sending Julianne the questions tomorrow (Tuesday, August 9th), since they're playing this Saturday against the Washington Freedom in the first round of playoffs. What would you like me to ask her in this Red Stars Confidential interview?

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.

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.  

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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