The Red Stars trades leave questions

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Boyds, MD – Saturday August 26, 2017: Christen Press, Whitney Church during a regular season National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) match between the Washington Spirit and the Chicago Red Stars at Maureen Hendricks Field, Maryland SoccerPlex.

We knew something was coming up when the Houston Dash swapped picks in the first round as well and the Dash would also get “a player to be named later.” The Red Stars, who also got the 24th overall pick in that trade, then took that sixth pick and traded that and the 13th pick to Sky Blue FC in exchange for the 15th overall pick. Sky Blue would also get three players to be named later while the Red Stars would get two.

As first reported by the Equalizer, the player going to Houston is forward Christen Press. Carli Lloyd, Janine Beckie, and Jen Hoy go to Sky Blue, and Sam Kerr and Nikki Stanton are heading to Chicago.

Red Stars head coach Rory Dames spoke to The Equalizer talking about his excitement about having Kerr in his ranks.

“Sam Kerr has been one of the best strikers in the world over the last 12-18 months,” explained Red Stars’ head coach Rory Dames to the Equalizer. “Anybody who has a chance to get Sam would be excited to have her.

“Her age (24) is a huge upside,” he added. “She’s at the very front end of her career.”

Kerr set both the single-game (4) and single-season records for goal scoring in 2017 en route to the NWSL Golden Boot. She and Stanton have been playing for Perth Glory in Australia’s W-League during the offseason.

“Sam is a player that any team in the league would jump to get,” said Dames. “She is a young and eager forward that has proven to be one of the best in the world. Then we get Nikki, who for us can be a solid 6 or 8 and really push our current mix of players. We couldn’t be happier to have both Sam and Nikki in Chicago.”

Meanwhile, Red Stars fans will undoubtedly miss Press who has scored 36 goals in 68 appearances for the Red Stars.

“Christen and I together had run our course. We’re both disappointed we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do. Christen put every bit as much of sweat, blood, emotion, and commitment into it as I did. Christen was phenomenal for us—raised the standards on and off the field [and was an]unbelievable role model the last few years for that young core,” said Dames.

“For three and a half years Christen did everything we asked her to do. We can’t thank Christen enough for her time here, but we had run our course together and mutually agreed it was time. Her time that she gave to this club and this city is invaluable and we wish he the best of luck in Houston.”

Hoy made 77 appearances for the Red Stars scoring 15 goals and 10 assists in her five seasons in Chicago.

After three straight years of falling in the NWSL Semifinals, the Red Stars appear ready to change things up with its core who had been mostly unchanged for those three seasons.

“We’ve had the same core for three years and we’ve stayed pretty loyal to them,” said Dames. “And we’ve gotten to a certain point and we haven’t been able to get past it. I think we have a good reputation as being loyal and developing our own and bringing [players]through the draft, but it’s time to shake it up a bit. It’s time to bring in some new, young blood.

“Just to see how excited those [players]who were here today—and all of them are really good players—it will bring a whole different energy to the group and that’s what we need.”

In the draft, the Red Stars made six selections. First (15th overall) was goalkeeper Emily Boyd of California-Berkeley. Boyd was Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year in 2017 and has the school record for both saves (280+) and clean sheets (36) for the Golden Bears. Boyd is expected to challenge Michele Dalton for the backup job to Alyssa Naeher.

Three picks later, the Red Stars selected another Cal product in defender Indigo Gibson. Gibson was a MAC Hermann semifinal and was the first Cal player since Alex Morgan to be so honored. She played every minute for the Golden Bears in 2017 which held opponents to one or fewer goals in every game this season.

With the very next pick (19th overall), they stayed in the Golden State and selected midfielder Brianna Visalli of Pepperdine. Visalli was a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist and was first Waves player to be named West Coast Conference (WCC) Player of the Year. She led the WCC in goals (14), points (34), and match-winners (6).

In the third round and with the 24th overall pick, the Red Stars selected midfielder Megan Buckingham of North Carolina. Buckingham score 10 goals and 10 assists in her four years with the Tar Heels and was ACC Freshman of the Year in 2014.

Three picks later (27th overall), the Red Stars selected Naperville-native and UCLA defender/forward Zoey Goralski. Goralski was a co-captain of the Bruins team that went to the 2017 Final of the College Cup in Orlando. She was Defensive MVP for the Bruins in 2015 and Rookie of the Year in 2014.

Finally, with the 37th overall pick, the Red Stars selected midfielder Alexa Ben of DePaul. Ben was three-time All-Big East First Team for the Blue Demons and was two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Week in 2017 where she scored seven goals in 19 matches.

THOUGHTS: After the final whistle went in Cary, NC, in the semifinal; the thought was whether the Red Stars would change things up in the offseason after a third successive semifinal failure. It appears we have our answer by trading the club’s top goal-scorer for a promising top goal-scorer from Sky Blue FC. Dames has hinted that more moves may be coming as the Red Stars try to get over that hurdle and finally into the Championship Game in 2018.

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