The Chicago Red Stars have announced several moves during the past week that are certain to shake the roster to its core.
On Monday, the club announced the loan of defender Kayla Sharples to the Australian A-League team Adelaide United. Sharples will re-join the Red Stars after her loan expires on March 28, 2022.
Sharples will likely receive some playing time with Adelaide after playing in only 14 of the Red Stars' 27 matches in 2021. Sharples played mostly when fellow defenders Tierna Davidson and Casey Krueger were off with the US National Team at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I'm excited to play for Adelaide United during the NWSL offseason. It is and always will be a priority of mine to do whatever it takes to improve my game,” said Sharples. “I believe this is another great opportunity to better myself, get some time away and most importantly work on my game to help elevate me into the player I know I can become. I’m grateful to Adelaide United for adding me to their team this season and my goal is to help them win the league. I’ll miss Chicago, but I’ll see you in a few months!”
Stalwarts of the Club Leave for Roster Protection
In what has been the biggest roster news so far this offseason, the Red Stars made a pair of trades with the two NWSL expansion teams: San Diego Wave and Angel City FC.
Longtime stalwarts of the club Sarah Gorden and Julie Ertz will head to Los Angeles to play for Angel City FC. The Red Stars also sent Angel City an international roster spot. In return, the Red Stars will receive roster protection from Angel City in the upcoming expansion draft.
Many fans were unhappy with the move and felt like Angel City got the better of the deal. It is hard to argue with them as both players were integral to the Red Stars' success over the past few seasons.
Gorden, a Chicago native and fan favorite, was a monster presence in the Red Stars' back line. She had her best season to date in 2021, when she was a finalist for NWSL Defender of the Year.
Ertz is a household name in women's soccer. She has been a mainstay on the US National Team and is a World Cup Winner. While Ertz struggled through injuries this season, her veteran leadership and talent will be hard, if not impossible, to replace.
While the Ertz move was likely to happen, the Gorden move will hurt fans the most. However, Gorden reportedly asked for the move:
In other news, the Red Stars made trades with other expansion side San Diego Wave, as well as a trade with OL Reign.
Forwards Katie Johnson and Makenzy Doniak were sent to San Diego alongside Kelsey Turnbow, Chicago's 2021 draft pick. The Red Stars will receive allocation money and roster protection from the Wave in the upcoming expansion draft. Reports indicate Johnson asked to be traded to San Diego to be close to family.
To accommodate another player request, the Red Stars sent Nicole Stanton to OL Reign. In exchange, Chicago received a third-round pick in the upcoming NWSL Draft. Stanton's home state is Washington.
A Team In Flux, To Say the Least
Former head coach Rory Dames resigned last month. His resignation came at an odd time of the night (nearly 1 AM). It also happened directly after Dames coached the team to yet another final. It seemed strange.
That was until a Washington Post article came out last month. The article detailed a long history of Dames being abusive with multiple former Red Stars players. Goalkeeper coach Rade Tanaskovic has been named acting head coach. However, it is doubtful he will be the one to replace Dames.
On top of that, many fans have criticized Red Stars' leadership for a lack of ownership and accountability in the wake of the Dames allegations. Yes, the Red Stars still do have Mal Pugh and Tierna Davidson. But whoever is the person chosen to lead the Red Stars will do so in a state of flux and without some of the team's best players.