The Lowdown: Red Stars seek gains on, off field

Dan Lauletta December 30, 2014 150

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In two NWSL seasons the Red Stars have yet to make the playoffs, missing narrowly both years. They have also failed to make a significant impression at the gate, languishing near the bottom of the attendance table. Both of those scenarios could be set to change in 2015.

“We’re pretty happy with the roster we have,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames told The Lowdown in an interview the week of Thanksgiving. “But we’re always looking to make our team better.”

Thus far this offseason, Dames has not seen fit to make any major splashes in the trade market, though the other clubs have been made aware that one of the Red Stars’ 1st round draft picks—5th and 8th overall—can be had for the right offer. If Dames winds up keeping the picks, those clubs have a right to be concerned. Every player the Red Stars have selected in the last two drafts remains on the roster, from last year’s dual 1st-rounders Julie Johnston and Vanessa DiBernardo to 4th-rounder Jen Hoy.

“This will be the first year where I don’t think anyone coming out of the draft fills a major need for us,” Dames said. “But there are some good players in the draft that can help make us better overall as a team.”

That sentiment is more a statement of where the Red Stars are than it is about the draft, although Dames believes his No. 5 pick is one spot away from the first line of demarcation in available players. But even without adding more muscle on draft day, if the Red Stars can match the best of what they did in 2014 they will be a force to be reckoned with in the new year. They were among the best in the league through May before a summer slump left them too far gone to recover with a late surge.

“We had a lot of young players that bought in to what we were asking them to do,” Dames said of the quick start. And then the likes of Christen Press, Melissa Tancredi, Emily Van Egmond, and Shannon Boxx began trickling in. All good players, but…

“We had to change the shape that we were playing out of and the style that we were playing a bit. It just took us time to get through that. I don’t think it was anything other than just trying to figure out what made the most sense for our group.”

[MORE: The Equalizer’s 14 most memorable moments of 2014]

Hoy’s season may have been a microcosm of the team’s. The former Ivy League star scored in four straight May matches—all wins—but not again for the remainder of the season. Dames dismissed the idea that Press’s arrival stunted Hoy, instead believing it was more of a physical breakdown.

“I think Jen just physically broke down a bit,” Dames said, noting that the scoring streak was part of a nine-game, season-opening stretch during which Hoy started and played beyond the 80th minute every time. Almost always she played as the lone striker.

“She was basically playing up front by herself so the amount of running that she had to do and the amount of ground she had to cover was tremendous,” Dames said. “And so I just think she physically broke down a bit.”

The Red Stars shut down Hoy from playing soccer in the weeks right after the season, and they hope to have a refreshed and fit striker heading into training camp in March. “We’ve got a better offseason plan for her,” Dames said. “We met with her and the trainers and got her off to a much better plan for this coming year. So I think she’ll be much better physically equipped to survive it.”

Generally speaking the 2015 season figures to be quite volatile with the U.S. World Cup roster sliding in for gameday cameos most of the season and Canadian participation—including prominent Red Stars Tancredi and Karina LeBlanc—in question. But considering how many Red Stars were either injured, pregnant, or tied up overseas for major parts of the last two seasons, the club figures to have unprecedented stability in season three of NWSL.

***

If things have been quiet in terms of roster moves they have been louder in the Red Stars’ front office. The club brought in six additional staff for the offseason in an effort to reach what general manager Alyse LaHue calls dramatically higher number targets. “It’s something we take very seriously and are making strides to create a larger fan base and presence in Chicagoland,” LaHue said in a recent email. The Red Stars averaged 2,949 fans in 2014, but that included a doubleheader that drew 15,743 fans.

While the additional staff should help with the ticket sales, a small but energetic supporters group is attempting to gain a foothold. Chicago Local 134 achieved its goal of having a presence at every Red Stars game last season and will look to increase membership and impact in 2015.

“By the end of the season we had a solid group of about 10 people who came on a regular basis, which for us more than exceeded our expectations,” Maggie Dziubek, who has co-organized the group for the last year, said. “We wanted to make sure that every home game there was someone there with a flag, someone there providing some kind of game atmosphere.”

So they’re not Portland’s boisterous and numerous Riveters. But they’re trying. That includes a virtual meeting prior to last season where members representing supporters groups from the other clubs—minus the Riveters and thee Dash, who were newly minted at the time—to exchange ideas about how to enhance supporters culture in NWSL. “A lot of the other groups had some of the same challenges. We were all kind of in the same boat. With the exception of Portland everyone else had sort of the same numbers and issues getting started,” Dziubek said.

“Local 134 is absolutely amazing,” LaHue said. “They are small in size, but all great things have to start somewhere and I see their growth and progression in much the same way I see the general growth and progression of the Red Stars and of the NWSL. We support them in every way we can.”

Dziubek supports that claim. “Our front office was absolutely supportive. Anything we wanted they helped us out. Arnim (Whisler, Red Stars owner) helped us set up our first smoke bomb.”

Local 134 accounted for one of the goal line bleachers at Benedictine University Sports Complex. Dziubek said she would like to see membership spill into a second bleacher section for 2015. “We want to keep our ambitions manageable,” she added.

Dziubek and her group have found a bar, AJ Hudson’s, that allows them to gather and watch away matches as well as U.S. national team contests. They are also constantly trying to recruit new fans to the Red Stars and NWSL. One glaring issue, is the location of Benedictine in Lisle, Ill., far outside the city limits.

“We have to find ways to circumvent any obstacles that would keep people from coming to our matches and make it more convenient whether through pub-to-pitch buses or even general carpools like Local 134 does,” LaHue said. “There is a public transportation system that will get you from the city of Chicago to where we play, but it doesn’t drop you on the front step of the stadium, which is the same issue that Fire had for years.”

Speaking of the Fire, a season-opening doubleheader at Toyota Park, home of the Red Stars’ MLS brethren, was a rousing success in 2014 and LaHue says the clubs expect to have more doubleheaders in 2015. They are currently working on matching their schedules—easier said than done when it comes to NWSL. The club is also researching to see if they can paint over the football lines at Benedictine.

The current commitment to Benedictine is only through 2015 and the Red Stars continue to explore alternate options to bring themselves closer to their fan base.

***

Rory Dames is not one to dwell on specific moments. So he does not spend too much time reliving the benchmark sequence of the 2014 NWSL season. It was August 2 in Washington and the Red Stars and Spirit were locked in a 1-1 tie. Press got in with a spectacular chance to give the Red Stars the lead in the 89th minute, but Ashlyn Harris denied her with an even more spectacular save. Two points gone. Then came stoppage time and the beautiful, long-range strike by Yael Averbuch that gave the Spirit a 2-1 win. Three points gone, and a six-point swing in total. The clubs ended up level on points, with the Spirit earning the final playoff spot on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

“We got a corner kick and we sent an extra player forward,” Dames said, adding that he would do it the same way again. “They countered back and we did a great job of positioning back. The play (Diana) Matheson made on the sideline to slide and keep it in was just as impressive as the shot Averbuch hit. If you’re going to lose a game and you lose on that kind of a goal, so be it. But I don’t think that’s the defining moment that didn’t let us get into the playoffs.”

Other moments include the final game of the season against the Flash, when the Red Stars conceded three goals in 20 minutes to fall behind and despite a stoppage-time penalty by Johnston to salvage a draw, were eliminated from the playoffs. On Father’s Day against Sky Blue, Vanessa DiBernardo hit the post with a penalty just before halftime. It would have given the Red Stars a 3-0 lead. Instead Sky Blue scraped together two goals in the second half for a 2-2 draw.

“You go through the season, you can look back and find eight or nine moments in five or six different games,” Dames said.

Looking at 2015, the hope is that for the first time in NWSL, the Red Stars will be focusing more on developing a consistent lineup than figuring out who will be arriving when. One big question is where Johnson will line up. Her Rookie of the Year campaign included time at central defensive midfield and center back.

“It’s hard to take Julie out of the back line,” Dames said. “I think other than Becky (Sauerbrunn), Julie was the best back in the league last year. Julie reads the game extremely well. Julie is a tremendous problem-solver. Regardless of whether we choose to keep her in the back or move her into the midfield, we definitely have players that are good on the ball and can cover ground and read the game.

“We just have to get better at keeping the ball. I feel great about (the midfield), but we have to do a better job at keeping the ball.”

  • Lorehead

    Those are some loyal fans! Good on ’em.

    • Guest

      Ten fans who stand behind the goal posts. Pure high school quality. Portland has nothing to worry about. A lot of MLS teams would love to have Riveters from the Thorns at their games.

      • Lorehead

        Still, good for those ten fans.

      • KT5000

        Portland (by which I assume you mean the Riveters) has nothing to worry about because the competition is on the field, not in the bleachers.

      • newsouth

        i went to a Portland game and didn’t see one wesen. what a boring place!

  • Steglitz49

    Is it known who are their overseas players next season?

    • Inka Grings

      I don’t think my legs can take it again.

    • Dumfries

      Right now the only international they have signed is Abby Erceg.

      • Steglitz49

        A good start.

  • Soccerfan

    They need a better playing facility though! Short goals, artificial turf and all the pre-painted lines take away from the feel of the quality.

    • AlexH

      Wow we had a psychic connection because I was simultaneously typing the exact same thing.

      • Soccerfan

        It’s just so frustrating because I want the league to be successful but it has to be watchable.

        • Pressed for Duress

          I only watch the laughable stream from Lisle because Christen Press is playing. If she is not on the pitch I find something else to do.

    • Toyota Park

      If you got the money I got the field.

      • kernel_thai

        Im going to be up all night trying to figure how Toyota Park typed that response.

      • guest

        Double headers with the Fire might be a cheaper way to play at Toyota Park and I hope, both for the players’ and the spectators’ sake, they do that.

        • Rdalford

          Would be interesting to know if Toyota Park charged Chicago Fire a higher fee when they hosted the double header and if fees were higher how was that cost split between Fire and Red Stars. My understanding of ticket revenue split was that Red Stars kept revenue from Red Star specific tickets while Fire kept revenue for Fire tickets plus the extra fee Red Star ticket holder had to pay if they wanted to also attend the Fire game (Fire ticket was valid for both games, red stars ticket required additional fee if you wanted to attend both games).

          Agree double header with Fire is good exposure for Red Stars and is much better for players and fans.

          • CHI

            My rear end hurts just thinking about watching two 200+ minutes of soccer. However, if a 2-header gets CRS into a nicer venue, then do so.

          • mockmook

            I think your calculator is broken.

            And, you don’t have to stay for both games in a double header, ya know?

          • Steglitz49

            football = soccer = football ?

  • AlexH

    Can they trade their draft picks for a better field. Their games were absolutely unwatchable last season. Even for turf it was crummy (i.e., FIFA grade negative 3) and the windy rainy conditions made it comically awful. It would be better they just rented out a city park and put some bleachers up than playing in the same place again.

    • Guest

      SO true. Deplorable. They are NOT in Chicago, so should not defame the city with that honorific. Just call them the Lisle Red Stars. I have no problem with that because it’s the truth. Sort of like the NY Giants playing in New Jersey the last 40 years. Fake.

      • Lord_Littlefingers_Lash

        I know right? Also, what’s the deal with ovaltine? the jar is round, the cup is round, it should be called roundtine!

        • Steglitz49

          Indeed. Arsenal are named after the arsenal at Woolwich. For many decades they played at Highbury but now they play at wherever Emirates stadium is located. Arsenal Ladies play at the practice ground which is halfway to China. Likewise, Liverpool and Everton Ladies don’t even play near their home grounds but in another town — where they share the same stadium egad!

  • ForeverLOST108

    I truly hope Dames isn’t serious where he isn’t looking at his draft picks to make big impacts on his team. This draft class is extremely deep at fullback and Chicago could certainly use some help there.

    • Beware the Rookie Messiah

      Not really. No NWSL team lived or died by the rookie last year. A high draft pick can be valuable, but not critical. They lucked out with JJ. The other big rookies were DiBernardo, Ohai, and Dunn, all under-achievers in comparison with their preseason hype.

      • kernel_thai

        Washington went from last to the playoffs and Dunn was a big part of that despite some injuries. Ohai had pretty much ur standard transitional season from college forward to pro forward…a learning experience. I thought they backed off on DiBernardos minutes as the season went on instead of just throwing her out there so she could improve.

  • HM

    I think the Lisle Red Stars could find a better coach, and owner.

  • dw

    Anyone else think that the WWC is going to somehow reduce support/growth for the NWSL rather than increase it? Can’t help but think it could have been done a lot better, but I guess I am always thinking that…

    • Steglitz49

      If the US win WC-15, the NWSL will survive. If they lose, it will be touch and go.

  • Reality

    I’m delighted to hear that Dames is even considering the possibility of putting Johnston in the mid-field! Combined with DiBernardo, CRS might begin to develop a more diversified offense with up the middle, on the ground possession to complement their standard direct over the top. He does appear to recognize that possession is a problem which is only magnified by the deplorable condition of the field. If he wants to keep Johnston on the back line, he should consider picking up a good mid-fielder like Killion. If his mid-field does improve, he would be able to utilize Press more effectively this year.

  • Pressured

    “Jen broke down.” That’s bologna. You can see Jen in many matches stretching on the sidelines, itching to get in and the concern on her face. She definitely wanted in. But Rory played Tank, who is not a good fit with Bernardo and Chalupney.
    “We have to get better at keeping the ball.” Ha!, That’s Rory’s fault for playing the direct game. Do you want me to pull the game video of him yelling at his team to make runs at goal?
    Run at goal, lob it in from distance, way off target, lose possession, chase ball – Retarded.

    • Reality

      Actually yes, could you find that video?

    • NYRick

      Hoy didn’t break down. Dames is just a clueless coach. Fact is, it was Tancredi’s arrival, not Press, that effected Hoy’s playing time and effectiveness on the pitch.

      CRS actually has the personnel to be a dominant team, but not with this coach. Kind of like the NT. It’s sadly familiar.

      • Reality

        At this point, Tancredi is sort like the CRS equivalent of Wambach…a player of limited utility who should only be used in selected situations off the bench, if at all.

        • NYRick

          Can you picture a forward tandem of Wambach-Tank starting for the same team in a 4-4-2. Now that would be funny.

          Actually, Tank is the perfect player for Dames though. Wambach and Carli are too. The thing I find most amazing is that the NWSL was “apparently” set up by the USSF to be a developmental/breeding ground for the NT. Yet, they do nothing to properly align players/coaches to the right teams and situations that best benefit the program. And they have the power to do so in this loosely structured league where good to star players move around to suit their husbands, partners, family situations etc. very freely. Also it is amusing that stardom or even noticable play in the NWSL means absolutely squat for the USWNT promotions, even invites to camps.

          • Guest

            Not amusing. Tragic and inefficient.

          • NYRick

            Agree. But tragic may even be the wrong word. It is simply more to incompetence and favoritism, and no one can actually understand why for a program that hasn’t won a WC in the last 4 tries. It’s not like they are on to some grand formula for success. NT players are allowed too much time in the program, and this coming WC highlights it in the most despicable fashion. The NWSL has a good 8-10 US players deserving of a look or a camp invite who will never get the chance.

          • Guest

            We have proven winners in the U-20 of 2012 group (Ohai, et al.), and we insist on keeping the old ladies. Give NTers two shots at a WC, and then off to the pasture. There are always great players out there who can step up and be heroes.

          • NYRick

            I’ve been advocating the 2 Cycle Rule for the NT for 2 years on here. People have laughed at that. I think it would do more good than bad and get results (ie winning the WC). Of course, there are always the exceptions, the stars at age 30-33 who came up at 21 or so etc., but the whole team caters to this long term soriority thinking due to simply…the gig and the money are too good. And the powerbrokers on the team (we know who they are) have just that…power in terms of influencing who makes the roster. It’s a scam really.

          • Steglitz49

            Cycle rules are inane and have no place in soccer.

          • CHI

            Maybe that’s why Sweden failed to make the men’s WC and Germany won. Two, or even one chance for a WC is fair enough. There are no lifetime sinecures or hereditary places on a football roster. All is temporary.

          • Steglitz49

            Less people live in Sweden than in Nj or MA. 9x more people live in Germany.

            Aya Miyama first played for Japan in 2003 and Yuki Ogimi in 2004. By your principle Norio would not be allowed to play them in Canada and Sawa would not have played for Japan in WC-11.

          • CHI

            “By your principle Norio would not be allowed to play them in Canada and Sawa would not have played for Japan in WC-11.” Correct. There are other JP women who would like to shine, and could.

            In the Olympic football tournament for men, it is U-23+3. One or two chances, unless a player is one of the chosen 23+ players. The IOC should mandate this for women as well.

          • Steglitz49

            Please
            — name those players, and also
            — explain why Japan should do without two of the world’s very best players in their positions.

          • In Sinc

            I hope Sawa starts all games in WC15. The old bag will bring the team down, like Abbster will for the USA. Sawa said she was retiring after 2011. Is she a liar?

          • Steglitz49

            Your point is well taken and to his credit Norio has not selected her a couple of times. To cover his back, he may be forced to take her to Canada but never play her. Maybe he will outflank her supporters by appointing her to the coaching staff.

          • Steglitz49

            last 3 tries, surely, not 4

          • Reality

            There is a huge disconnect between the NT and the NWSL and it is ironic since the NWSL should serve as a feeder league for the NT. Instead, the sine qua non for advancement is to play on the U20 and the U23 which frankly have not been performing that well. Rodriguez is, of course, the obvious example of that but there are other factors that seem to be precluding her utilization which might involve Ellis’s view of her not to mention Wambach’s lack of chemistry between the two.

          • Steglitz49

            Since the NWSL started, who has truly come into the NT from its ranks?

          • Guest

            No starters I can think of. Plenty of women had looks though, Allie Long, Naeher, DiBernardo.

          • Steglitz49

            Naeher is not fair. She had great success at Potsdam and Boston’s coach kept the goal open for her. (Boston’s poor showing cost the coach her job admittedly.)

          • Guest

            Your question was since the NWSL started, not since Naeher played for Potsdam (2010/11).

          • Steglitz49

            2011-2013 Naeher made 39 appearances for Potsdam.

          • Guest

            But it was Ellis watching her play at home in the NWSL that got her the WNT cap two weeks ago.

          • Steglitz49

            If JE was unaware of her exploits for one of the legendary teams of WoSo then the USNT is in a worse place than many hope.

      • Steglitz49

        Is your implication that Dames was told to play a Canadian player?

        • NYRick

          I’m only implying that he’s not a very good coach. Nothing to do with a player’s national ties who he plays. Good coaches understand their personnel and how best to play to those strengths. Rigid coaches like this guy are clueless. They know one way, and can never deviate from that even when the situation and personnel on hand screams to do so. This guy would have had Michael Jordan playing power forward for the Bulls.

          • Steglitz49

            There are some interesting stats for the Chicago teams of 2013 and 2014. Maybe you can help me decipher them. The figures go as follows: goals, assists, time, fouls committed fouls suffered.

            2014
            Press 6 / 0 / 1080 / 12 / 5
            Chups 5 / 0 / 2003 / 28 / 45
            Hoy … 4 / 3 / 1354 / 18 / 7
            Mautz 3 / 0 / 1053 / 8 / 5

            2013
            Chups 5 / 4 / 1500 / 33 / 41
            Hoy … 3 / 1 / 481 / 6 / 5
            Mautz 4 / 0 / 501 / 6 / 5
            Grings 3 / 1 / 1295 / 15 / 12
            Fuss .. 2 / 1 / 1440 / 8 / 2

            The German guests committed more fouls than they suffered. Hoy and Mautz seem to have acquired their habit.

            What happened to the assists during 2014 compared with 2013?

          • NYRick

            An extremely strange team to analyze from the two years. Press came on at mid-season in ’14, and JJ and DiB were rookies. Chups also much better in ’13 than in ’14. Plus, throw in the amateur and hideous pitch they play on, the cheap goal posts (which may have cost them a playoff spot) and a coach who would manage to foul up the personnel on Real Madrid and you get what you suggest? Chaos and confusion.

          • Steglitz49

            You must interpret the facts, not speculate in what might have been.

            — Why did the assists cease, for example?

            — Christen does not foul a lot but she fouls at twice the rate she is fouled, like Hoy, Grings and Fuss, while Chups is the total opposite. Why? Would it help to understand?

          • NYRick

            I’m a believer that if you analyze stats enough they will tell anyone what they want to believe.

            I go by what my eyes tell me when I watch any sporting event, including a women’s soccer match. When I watch CRS I see: a horrible pitch unsuitable for kids playing in an Under 8 league, a coach who doesn’t properly employ the talent he has at hand, a player of Press’s caliber playing in the midfield most of the match with defensive responsibilities her main task, and a team with difficulty stringing two consecutive passes together who play a roughhouse brand of soccer (bordering on dirty much of the time).

          • Steglitz49

            please see my comment to CHI

          • CHI

            The answer you troll for is that Press is no good and should be fired.

          • Steglitz49

            How do you reach that bizarre conclusion, which is against the evidence?

            One conclusion is that with the same minutes as Chups, Christen could have had 10 to 12 goals.

            Another conclusion is that, seeing that Chicago did better in 2014 than 2013, the direct game works.

            A third is that fouling people seems to work unless the ref books you or even sends you off.

  • kernel_thai

    I guess what Dames meant say is he doesnt have any needs after Johnston, Press, Chalupny, LeBlanc, Erceg, Leon, Tancredi and maybe Quon get back from WC. But if he really doesnt need those draft picks Id love for Houston to have them.

    • Steglitz49

      Chicago has picks 5 and 8. They had better chose carefully.

  • NYRick

    “You go through the season, you can look back and find eight or nine moments in five or six different games where I had Press playing strictly as a defensive midfielder,” Dames said.

    • HM

      Tony G he ain’t.

    • Steglitz49

      Why on earth?

      • JAMES 18

        Because he’s offensively challenged.

  • newsouth

    Bywaters and Sam Johnson sure can dance. Too bad they couldn’t edit Press into the video. one of the best videos of 2014…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8kE6AxMa4o

    I would have Karina on my team just for the personality factor.

    • Mayor Daly

      Too bad they aren’t a Chicago based team. Truth in advertising should have the NWSL acknowledge the team as the Lisle Red Stars.

  • Reality

    Dames fails to understand the reasons for CRS’s failure to make the playoffs last year.

    He implies that prior to the influx of new players, Press et al, the team had “bought in” to his strategy of defensive holding, offensive counter attack and direct over the top play and that they were doing well.

    Then…”We had to change the shape that we were playing out of and the style that we were playing a bit. It just took us time to get through that. I don’t think it was anything other than just trying to figure out what made the most sense for our group.”

    The truth of the matter was that CRS’s initial success in the season was due to a soft schedule that was front loaded with weak teams. Once the “new” players came on board, his “bit” of adjustment was wholly inadequate to integrate the opportunities they offered to meet the challenges posed by the second half season schedule with the hardest teams.

    He essentially kept the same strategy and wasted the talent at his disposal. Apparently, he believes that this continues to be a successful strategy for the future that just needs a little tuning up.

    He is deluded in this belief and IMO, not only does he not see the inadequacy of his strategy, but he is incapable of making the necessary changes that would create a balanced team.

    Dames’s does have a vague realization that possession is a problem. But it goes far beyond that. CRS has to fundamentally change their offensive emphasis from counter attack direct over the top to diversified and balanced play that includes an actual possession game with good ball handling, one touch passing and combinations, and the ability to play the ball up the middle and on the ground.

    Ironically, this is the same problem that the NT faces and Press is doubly handicapped in her career by her placement at CRS.

    Dames needs to move Johnston into the mid-field with DiBernardo and obtain another good mid like Killion in the draft. Chalupny can play at DM and now you have the makings of a balanced offense that can offer diversification in the attack while still retaining good defense.

    There is the potential for CRS to do very well this year if Dames can make this “bit” of adjustment.

    • NYRick

      A smart trade for both teams would be Press to Seattle for Syd. Both would prosper best with the personnel/coaching and strategy of the new respective teams. Trade would never happen, but if Syd was smart she would understand it may revitalize her scoring touch and get her in strong favor with the NT again. She was very effective for Boston her first year in the NWSL with over the top direct long ball play. That is really her only option as an effective player in my opinion and Dames would give her that. Plus, she is physical and rough and tumble and would fit in well with the female version of the Broad Street Bullies in Lisle.

      Also, Ohai for Press is a great trade for both teams too. Not necessarily equal value, but I think Ohai would love running for long balls for CRS with her speed, and Press gets a smart coach and Morgan Brian to grow with and further develop at Houston. It is absolutely amazing that the USSF does’t arrange trades for the best of the NT program. They accommodated Alex to whatever she wanted though, along with Abby and Syd. Yet, Press and Brian may be their two most important players moving forward for the NT.

      Actually, the NWSL is going to be very strange this year with all the NT player absences to say the least. This year is all about the WC in women’s soccer. But Press does need to get out of CRS and that hideous ping pong lined table pitch they play on as well. The only positive I see with Press in CRS last year is that it did toughen her up a bit being in that environment. Not necessarily a good thing, but as her career advances and she becomes a prominent scorer for the NT (hopefully), then teams are going to get more physical with her, much like they do with Alex. However, she is more a Gretzky finesse type of player and smartly (and hopefully continually) manages not to put her in position for hard challenges and reckless 50/50 balls etc.

      • Reality

        I had elaborated upon the Press for Leroux trade in the previous article “Once again, no drama surrounding No. 1 pick” before this one on CRS came out. Press for Ohai would also be an interesting trade. Kernel_thai had remarked, “The only player Houston could offer of equal impact for Press would be Lloyd. If Chicago would go for it I say sign the papers.”, which is an interesting idea. Lloyd would fit Dames’s playbook very well.

        CRS will be depleted for much of the 2015 season since many of their players will be headed for WC2015 with either the U.S. or Canada, so it would be a perfect time for Dames to get some good ball control players out of the draft and experiment with some new strategies.

        • NYRick

          Sorry I didn’t really read that thread. I know we have both broached this topic in the past though, and it is still a smart play and in the best interests of the USSF for both players. I don’t think it’s equal value because I just personally think Press is a star, and Syd is a good, hustling player with limitations. I could be wrong on that, but just my opinion. But it is a trade that benefits both teams and both players.

          • Reality

            I’ll cut and paste a relevant comment from the previous thread about the relative value of the two players…

            “Press has certainly helped CRS in spite of the limitations imposed on her by Dames’s system. But they are only wasting her talent and would be better served by a forward who fit properly into their style of play. Leroux is that forward. They can’t utilize Press’s repertoire fully but Leroux would definitely thrive there. It would be exceedingly foolish for CRS to pass up such an opportunity to make a good marriage like this instead of the poor match they have now. A one up swap would work. If CRS got too greedy in asking for more, it would kill the deal. Harvey’s certainly not stupid with her trades. Both teams would clearly benefit from a straight swap.”

            Harvey could throw in a sweetener but it shouldn’t have to be significant. The trade makes too much sense to spoil it with extraneous demands.

          • kernel_thai

            In star power Leroux is probably bigger than Press. Leroux hustle, social media presence and well known battle with her birth country have made her a fan favorite. To get Press out of Arnim Whistlers grasp u need to give him something he deems even more valuable to ticket sales. It’s a bonus that she also fits the Chicago system better.

          • NYRick

            I’ll grant you Leroux over Press for star power maybe right now. But that is changing drastically. And if Press was the true starting center forward on the NT (where she should play) that her star power would go through the roof at the WC. We’ve talked about this other times before, but I think someone like Press would have near the same Twitter jump at the WC as Morgan with the team having some success, she being the feature scorer with her looks. Each match she would increase her Twitter following probably by 100k.

          • kernel_thai

            Names r made in WCs and OLY. If Press comes home from Canada a hero her popularity will soar…BUT…she seems a much more reserved person than Morgan or Leroux and Im not sure she would ever court the fan base the way they do.

        • CHI

          lloyd and Tanc on the same team. I love it, but they would never play well together. Not after Tanc stepped on Carli’s face and laughed about it later on TV.

          • Reality

            That indeed might be an obstacle.

        • newsouth

          press for ohai already occurred when cushing requested for ohai to houston in exchange for press and the #2. that’s not going to get reversed. find another fantasy trade.

          • Reality

            Not my idea…NYRick’s. I don’t favor Press in Houston although it might be a third or fourth choice. But as you say, the Cushing connection will keep Ohai there regardless. What’s your fantasy NWSL team for Courtnall if she ever realizes that she won’t make it in track?

          • Steglitz49

            I like Christen in Houston.

          • Reality

            Have you ever been to Houston?

          • Steglitz49

            Yes. Several times.

      • Steglitz49

        As Reality types, we did about 20 if not 40 interactions on this topic just before. Yesterday’s issue for yesterday’s fans.

        • CHI

          No, it’s a current problem that won’t go away. I enjoy comments castigating dunderheads.

          • Steglitz49

            There are warnings about not pouring new wine into old wineskins but it was new to be exhorted to pour old wine into overfull kegs.

          • CHI

            Since when has that stopped EQ commenters from uploading comments?

          • NYRick

            Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I guessing your bizarre parable may be appropriate.

      • kernel_thai

        Ohai is too much like what they already have in players like Bywaters or Hoy tho maybe a slightly better version of it. Press gives Chicago a totally different dynamic that Dames simply doesnt take advantage of. Press would thrive in Houston tho with Lloyd absorbing the defensive attention and Brian making those sweet passes.

        • kernel_thai

          The place Ohai would have thrived was KC, where she might have ended up if the draft order hadnt been changed. There she could run the flanks chasing thru balls from Tymrak and Holiday, which is probably what they r hoping HAO will do.

    • CHI

      Great point about Press. Being on the roster under Dames is not going to improve her game one bit, except maybe to get more experience on plastic grass.

      • Reality

        She’ll get even more experience at the WC2015 in Canada.

      • Guest

        Press played on lots of astroturf whilst in Sweden.

    • AlexH

      Actually the CRS did as well against the top teams as everybody else. They didn’t make the playoffs because they could not beat the Washington Freedom. Had NWSL used the tiebreakers that are common in other soccer CRS would have made the playoffs. With a full off season Dames can now fit is battle plan to his players .

      • fyi

        hard to beat a team (Washington Freedom ?) that does not exist.
        they also had trouble with Washington Spirt

      • ayylmao

        Also, they could’ve made it if they won their last game against the WNY or if Seattle had won against Portland. So many freakin chances to get in the playoffs… It seems like CRS settles for mediocrity which is a shame because I like a lot of their players.

      • Reality

        They didn’t make the playoffs because their team is configured for defense not offense. While being #2 to Seattle in Goals Allowed with only 26, they were #7 in Goals Scored with only 32 beating just Sky Blue and Houston. They were #1 in the league with ties at 8.

        CRS’s schedule was frontloaded with easy teams in the first half of the season. When Press came in July, she was the difference in doing well against the top teams in the difficult second half of the schedule having scored 4 out of the 7 goals against Portland, Seattle, and KC. She even scored a goal against Houston on July 26th at the 90″ mark which the replay showed was clearly in but was missed by the official. That would have given them a 1-0 win and kept them ahead of DC instead of being tied going into the final game with them. In other words they would have made the playoffs even though they lost that last game with Washington.

        But even with Press doing yeoman’s work, Dames has the team configured all wrong for her ability. She is their primary offensive threat and they aren’t using her properly. As a result, all their games have been paltry in offense with constant struggles to score.

        If Dames hopes to do better this year, he must change his offensive strategy to incorporate better players in the mid-field who can handle the ball. And he must play to Press’s strengths, let her play as the striker that she is with good support from the mid-field instead his usual direct over the top ping pong offense. CRS’s prognosis would improve substantively.

        If he is going to stick to his standard game plan, then he needs to trade Press for Leroux since she would be a better fit at CRS. Free Press!

        • HM

          When Press was at Tyreso this is exactly what she did as striker. And Marta was her mid-field distributor. Not bad eh?

          • Steglitz49

            Christen did very well for Göteborg and Gbg did not have Marta to help her.

          • Reality

            Marta was only part of the equation at Tyreso since Boquete and Seger were also in the mid-field. Marta also missed a number of games due to injury. Press with this outstanding mid-field scored a total of 34 goals for the season…23 in league play, 9 in CL play and 2 in Cup play. She is an outstanding striker when given support.

          • HM

            Every time someone points this out I feel down. Press really does shine with support, but I haven’t seen much of that on the WNT, perhaps due to seniority turf battles. A real coach would stop that pronto.

          • Reality

            Where are the coaches of yesteryear?

          • Steglitz49

            Excepting Vlatko, not active in the US obviously.

          • Steglitz49

            All strikers need support to shine. There is the odd forward who shines by giving assists. They are worth their weight in rhino horns.

          • Reality

            Press was second in assists in the CL and 3rd in assists this year on the NT with only 2 mids ahead of her. However, I prefer to liken her to being worth her weight in gold insofar as rhinos are an endangered species.

          • Steglitz49

            It was at Gbg that Christen showed her class. It was not a team loaded with talent like Tyresö but they tried to get the ball to Christen as much as possible and she scored tons for them.

            Gbg retained the Cup because of her and reached the Champions League QF, which they would have won with her had she stayed with them. The Swedish cup remains the only club team trophy that Christen has won. She grew as a player during that season.

            Her stats at Chicago are excellent except that she fouls too much. She avoids being fouled but a striker mustn’t give away freekicks (penalties?) at that rate.

          • Reality

            CRS is a fouling team so she fits right in with respect to that parameter. But, really, since you have constantly cited Press’s stay at Goteborg as the pinnacle of her career, you must share with us what traumatized you so much about her moving on to greener pastures from there.

          • Steglitz49

            She jumped ship at 1 second to midnight. Gbg considered that they had ironed out the deal with her but at the last second she dumped them.

            They took her in when she was washed up high and dry. She benefited from their coaching. Loyalty is a much appreciated quality. Give and take, and all that.

          • ayylmao

            They wouldn’t release her for non-fifa dates. That is the real reason why she left. She had intended to stay until she found that out, then Tyreso quickly scooped her up.

          • Steglitz49

            Sermanni played her in the Algarve cup before the Swedish season started. Those windows did not matter.

            The FIFA dates are there for a reason and should be thus honored.

            The Swedish players union with Jean-Michel Aulas have this past year persuaded FIFA to consider separate windows for the ladies.

            A poor club like Gbg can not afford the strength in depth that would allow them to release one of their very best players for extra long periods. We now know the color of Tyresö’s funny money.

            Gbg, as I remember, had actually told their fans and the other players, maybe even the press, that they had reached an agreement only to wake up to find Press elsewhere.

          • Reality

            Your argument is not persuasive. Goteborg helped her to develop and she helped Goteborg to win…a fair trade. She broke no contract but rather decided to go to a team that would work with her during the Swedish season to attend NT games and trainings without which she would have been left off of the team like your friend Horan. Now there’s a woman who went for the money. She was not loyal to her country but apparently that type of disloyalty is acceptable. If Goteborg was truly interested in keeping her, they would have made accommodations for the few games necessary out of the season when she would be with the NT. Their foolish behavior lost Press to them for the whole season and Tyreso was the beneficiary as ultimately was Press and of course the NT.

          • Steglitz49

            Tom Sermanni played her in early February long before she had kicked a ball for Tyresö.

            Lindsey Horan declined her scholarship to UNC and preferred to play for PSG. Lindsey would still be playing college soccer today. PSG signed her in spite of an injury which kept her out of the 2012 gold winning U20 team. She played in the 2014 U20 but they did not do so well.

            You clearly do not understand what a financial tightrope many clubs in Europe walk. Tyresö went bankrupt. At least Gbg are still solvent. The FIFA windows exist for a reason.

          • KalleAnka

            Gott nytt årm, Steg !

          • Reality

            As ayylmao said, Goteborg would not work with her on being released for USNWT dates. You can hardly blame her for leaving under those circumstances. They were not reasonable with her and they paid the price. Now that we’ve dispensed with that transparency, what is the real reason for your antipathy toward her?

          • Steglitz49

            Disloyalty.

          • Reality

            We agree to disagree. In any case, Happy New Year!

          • Loyalty?

            Do not speak of loyalty in regards to football contracts and the buying and selling of players by teams and their owners. It just sounds foolish and naive.

          • Steglitz49

            It was also the manner in which it was done, as I indicated in my longer reply.

  • kernel_thai

    Chicago gets hurt without Brynjarsdottir playing in the NWSL. That moved the top tier of the draft from five spots to four. He also gets hurt if Janelle Flaws stays at Illinois for another year. While Flaws isnt in that top tier she exactly the player Chicago likes to take…one with local roots and connections within the organization. That being said, I dont buy that there r no impact players after the fourth pick. Dames could easily add two players with those picks who were starters.

  • ForeverLOST108

    I truly hope that Chicago doesn’t go and waste that #8 pick on local girl Rachel Tejada. She’s had great scoring success (In the MVC…) but she’s too similar of a player to Tancredi to draft her that high. Chicago needs help in the midfield and at outside back.

    What I’d love to see with their full starting 11 if they got lucky enough to draft Killion at #5 and then an outside back at #8:

    ——————LeBlanc—————–
    Hemmings–Johnson–Erceg–Gilliland/Dydasco/Hinkle
    —————–Johnston—————
    —–Killion—–DiBernardo—-Chalupny
    —————Press——Hoy————

    • kernel_thai

      That’s so funny! Dames said he doesnt really need anything out of the draft yet uve found him two starters in Killion and Gilliland. Maybe he needs to check his roster again.

  • U-23 roster for January camp

    Meanwhile, the U-23 roster for January camp has been named.

    GOALKEEPERS (4): Aubrey Bledsoe, Jane Campbell, Katelyn Rowland, Abby Smith

    DEFENDERS (9): Lauren Barnes, Abby Dahlkemper, Arin Gilliland, Taryn Hemmings, Jaelene Hinkle, Samantha Johnson, Kassey Kallman, Merritt Mathias, Emily Sonnett

    MIDFIELDERS (7): Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Tori Huster, Sarah Killion, Rose Lavelle, Erika Tymrak, Keelin Winters

    FORWARDS (4): Sarah Hagen, Stephanie McCaffrey, Kealia Ohai, Katie Stengel

    I assume Shim, Horan, and Brooks have aged out of this group.

    http://www.nwslsoccer.com/home/854409.html

    • Steglitz49

      Lindsey Horan is <21 years but Amber Brroks will be 24 in a couple of weeks.

      • Rdalford

        This (partially) U-23 group includes a number of overage players. Since this is training camp only it appears they have just pulled in a group to evaluate and perhaps give the NT some competition. Some in this group have already had brief NT experiences and others (Ohai etc) are players that many think should have also been given a look at the NT level.