Chicago Red Stars Profile
|Major Honours||USASA National Women's Cup (1)|
From a star-studded squad to financial difficulties and progression to the National Women's Soccer League. Despite their short history, the club has experienced many highs and many lows.
The Chicago Red Stars were announced in 2006 as one of the founding teams of the brand new Women's Professional Soccer league in the United States.
On June 3, 2008, it was announced that 'Red Stars' had won a fan ballot for the team's name.
Peter Wilt was hired as the team's first president and general manager, with Emma Hayes named the technical director and manager.
The Red Stars have played home games at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview as well as the Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex.
SeatGeek Stadium was shared with Chicago Fire FC of MLS until 2020. The Red Stars started life at SeatGeek Stadium (then called Toyota Park) and left from 2011 to 2015, returning for the 2016 NWSL season.
They played some matches in 2012 at the Concordia University Chicago Athletic Complex and the Lakeside Athletic Field in Evanston.
In 2019, The Red Stars became the first team to make the NWSL play-offs five years in a row.
Women's Professional Soccer era
WPS started out in 2009 as a seven-team league. The Red Stars began life with US national team stars Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsay Tarpley and Brazilian forward Cristiane.
The Red Stars finished sixth out of seven teams with 20 points from 20 games. They scored 18 goals and conceded 25 in the campaign.
Cristiane led the team with seven goals, while Tarpley had four and both Rapinoe and Lloyd had two.
Lloyd left for Sky Blue FC after the season, and Chicago added defender Kate Markgraf, who had over 200 international caps for the United States.
The Red Stars again finished in sixth place in 2010 with 27 points from 24 games. Ella Masar led the team with eight goals, while Cristiane scored three times.
Stars leave as Chicago drop a level
After the 2010 season, the Red Stars couldn't come up with the security bond to play in WPS in 2011.
They dropped down a level to WPSL so they wouldn't lose their brand name. As a result, most of their star players like Cristiane, Rapinoe, Masar, Markgraf and Whitney Engen left the team.
Rory Dames was hired as the new manager before the start of the 2011 season.
The Red Stars lost their first WPSL game 1-0 to the Minnesota Kings but then won the next eight games to win the league.
In the play-offs, they won three matches before falling in the WPSL finals to the Orange County Waves after extra-time.
In 2012, the Red Stars brought Masar back, added midfielder Lori Chalupny and moved into WPSL Elite. They finished fourth out of eight teams in the regular season with 28 points from 14 games.
In the play-offs, the Red Stars beat Boston 3-1 in the semi-finals but lost in a shootout to Western New York in the final.
They claimed a trophy by beating the New York Athletic Club 3-2 in the final of the US Women's Open Cup. Lauren Fowlkes led the team with eight goals, while Chalupny scored six.
National Women's Soccer League era
In November 2012, a new women's professional soccer league was announced, with the Red Stars being charter members of the National Women's Soccer League.
This league was subsidised by the US Soccer Federation, the Canadian Soccer Association and the Mexican Football Federation.
The Red Stars added Canadian goalie Eric McLeod, US midfielder Shannon Boxx and German forward Inka Grings to their ranks.
The Red Stars finished sixth out of eight teams in the first season with 30 points from 22 games. They were led in scoring by Lori Chalupny with five goals and four assists, while Alyssa Mautz scored four times.
McLeod started 16 games in goal, keeping four clean sheets. Chalupny was named in the NWSL Best XI for the 2013 season.
McLeod was traded to Houston after the 2013 season and was replaced in the starting line-up by Karina LeBlanc.
The Red Stars added midfielder Julie Johnston (now Julie Ertz) and forward Christen Press, who both play for the USWNT.
Chicago finished with 35 points from 24 games in 2014, missing the NWSL play-offs on a tiebreaker with Washington Spirit.
The Red Stars had a better goal difference, but the first tie-breaker was on head-to-head record and they had lost all three games to the Spirit during the season.
Press led the team with six goals, while Chalupny scored five. Johnston was named NWSL Rookie of the Year.
Late 2010s in the NWSL
In 2015, the Red Stars drafted Sofia Huerta and got off to a great start with four wins and three draws to start the season.
They lost most of their starters for a month to the 2015 Women's World Cup but still won three and drew three from June 28 to August 1.
They finished second in the regular season with 33 points, 10 points behind Seattle Reign. In the play-offs, they lost 3-0 to FC Kansas City in the semi-finals.
Huerto was the May NWSL Player of the Month, while Danielle Colaprico was the NWSL Rookie of the Year. Both Press and Johnston made the NWSL Best XI for the 2015 season.
Press led the Red Stars with 10 goals in just 11 games, while Huerta scored six times. Chalupny retired after the 2015 season and her No. 17 jersey was also retired by the club.
In 2016, the Red Stars drafted Katie Naughton, traded to bring Engen back to the club and acquired goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
They finished third in the regular season with 33 points from 20 games and a +4 goal difference. In the play-off semi-finals, they lost 2-1 in extra-time to the Washington Spirit.
Naeher was the NWSL Player of the Month in June, while Press and Arin Gilliland were named in the NWSL Best XI. Press led the team with eight goals in 14 games, while Huerta added seven.
In 2017, the Red Stars added midfielder Kristie Mewis, while Johnston became Julie Ertz following her marriage to NFL tight end Zach Ertz. Chicago finished fourth in the regular season with 39 points and again made the play-offs.
They lost in the NWSL semi-finals for the third straight season with a 1-0 defeat to the North Carolina Courage. Press again led the Red Stars in scoring with 11 goals while Huerta had six and Ertz scored four. Press and defender Casey Short were named in the NWSL Best XI.
Big signings before 2018
Before the 2018 season, the Red Stars were part of a three-team trade that brought forward Sam Kerr and midfielder Nikki Stanton to Chicago.
They also added midfielder Rosie White in the Boston Breakers Dispersal Draft. Press went to Houston in the trade and forward Jen Hoy went to Sky Blue. Huerta and Samantha Johnson also left.
The Red Stars finished fourth again in 2018 with 37 points. Yet again, they lost in the play-off semi-finals following a 2-0 defeat to the North Carolina Courage.
Kerr led the NWSL in scoring with 16 goals, was named in the NWSL Best XI and was also a finalist for league MVP. Ertz was a finalist for NWSL Defender of the Year.
Before the 2019 season, the Red Stars traded two draft picks to Sky Blue for forwards Katie Johnson and Savannah McCaskill.
The Red Stars struggled in the middle of the season as they lost four of five games while their stars were at the 2019 Women's World Cup.
Once they returned, Chicago rattled off five straight wins. They finished the regular season with five consecutive wins as well to qualify for the play-offs.
The Red Stars finished second in the regular season, five points behind North Carolina.
They finally grabbed a play-off win by beating the Portland Thorns 1-0 in the semi-finals courtesy of a goal from Kerr. However, they lost to North Carolina 4-0 in the NWSL final on October 27.
Kerr scored an NWSL-record 18 goals, while Yuki Nagasato scored seven times and led the NWSL with eight assists that season.
Kerr won six Player of the Week and two Player of the Month awards and was named league MVP. Kerr, Short and Ertz were named in the NWSL Best XI.
Before the 2020 season, the Red Stars lost Kerr to Chelsea of the Women's Soccer League. They added Kealia Watt from Houston in exchange for Katie Naughton, while Nagasato went on loan to the Hayabusa Eleven.
The 2020 NWSL season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Eight of the league's nine teams met in Sandy, Utah, for the NWSL Challenge Cup.
In group play, the Red Stars won one, drew one, and lost two, finishing in sixth place. In the quarter-finals, they upset No. 3 seed OL Reign in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw.
In the semi-finals, goals from Bianca St Georges, Savannah McCaskill and Rachel Hill saw them beat Sky Blue FC 3-2. They couldn't go on to win the title, though, as they lost 2-0 to Houston Dash in the final.
In the Fall Series, they finished in sixth place with one win and one draw in four games against Washington and Sky Blue.
Chicago Red Stars' top players
The top scorers in Red Stars' history as an NWSL team are Christen Press and Samantha Kerr, with 35 goals each.
Sofia Huerta had 22 goals in her time with the Red Stars, ranking third. Naeher has started 81 games in goal for the Red Stars with 27 clean sheets.
Among the big-name players to call the Red Stars home are Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz, Shannon Boxx, Lori Chalupny and Kate Markgraf.