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Back as head coach, Dames preparing Red Stars for new season

In two years in charge of the Chicago Red Stars, head coach Rory Dames has taken the club to the brink of a league championship twice. Now he will have an opportunity to finish the job in the brand new professional league that will kick off next spring. The club officially retained Dames on Wednesday and hired Stephanie Foster as first assistant.

“Arnim (Whistler, Red Stars owner) and I have been talking since last year,” Dames said about staying on as head coach. “It was all a matter of making sure time wise we can manage it the way we want to do it.”

Foster played as Stephanie Erickson at Northwestern where she graduated as the school’s all-time leader in goals and assists (both marks since broken). She returned to coach the school’s women’s soccer program from 2006-2011.

Foster also coached one season at Harvard and spent time as a staff member at Stanford. Dames will look to tap into Foster’s widespread knowledge of the women’s game.

“I’ve known Steph for a long time,” Dames said. “She is tied in on a much higher level than I am to scouting networks and access to players so she was a great fit for me.

“She was my first choice to come in and be the number two. We had a couple of conversations with her and when she decided to do it I think that’s a huge, huge asset for not only the team but the organization.”

Dames’s other assistants will be Christian Lavers and goalkeeper coach Trae Manny, who returns for a second season.

The staff set, the team is mostly sitting and waiting, like everyone else. No players have been assigned to any of the eight teams in U.S. Soccer’s new league, and no one seems sure how they will get there.

If it were up to Dames he would bring back some of the Red Stars that competed for him in WPSL Elite in 2012, but at the moment it is out of his hands.

“The reality of it is, until the federations assign players to teams you really can’t do anything else with players because you don’t know what you’re going to need,” Dames said. “I would love to be able to have some of the players I had last year. They’re familiar with the system and they’re familiar with myself. If there is one big overall draft for everybody then I think everyone is kind of starting from scratch. If it’s just the allocations by the federations and the college draft and you negotiate with the other players that you want and they make the choices about where they want to go, then I think you have some familiarity with players returning to where they were if they had positive experiences.”

Dames was not asked about specific players, but some of the better Red Stars in 2012 included Lori Chalupny, Jen Buczkowski, and Ella Masar. He added that he has not seen any lists as far as which players will be funded by the three federations in 2013.

One notion Dames dismissed is that coaches will be taking heat from the federations about how to use the players the fund.

“I would hope the whole point of the federations getting involved in this is so their players have to go into a competitive, professional environment and continue their development,” he said. “So any player who is guaranteed a place on the field or told beforehand that they’re going to be playing for sure regardless of who’s paying for them, would seem to be a little counterproductive for what all of the federations got into this for. But I guess time will tell.

“I would be surprised,” he continued,” I think the federations want these players go somewhere where they’re going to be training on a daily basis, playing with and against very good players, and having to continue to improve and develop to compete for spots not only on the teams they’re playing on but on their national teams.”

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