Chicago Red Stars Set for Home Opener against Seattle Reign FCApril 12, 2013 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Chicago Red Stars
There is a wide range of experience and cohesion on this Red Stars squad, including the talents of co-captains Lori Chalupny and Leslie Osborne, who have had chemistry in the midfield together since their teenage years up to their time with the U.S. National Team. Defender Carmelina Moscato is comfortable in her role protecting starting goalkeeper Erin McLeod. Both have played together on the Canadian National Team and at Penn State University.
Much of last year's core of players from the Red Stars WPSL-Elite team has returned including Lauren Fowlkes, Ella Masar, Alyssa Mautz, Jackie Santacaterina, Julianne Sitch and Michelle Wenino.
Coming off of four straight pre-season victories, the team is meshing together despite some late arrivals. Maribel Dominguez and Dinora Garza, Mexican National Team allocations, attended their first training on Wednesday afternoon, and three-time Olympic Gold medalist and USWNT-allocated player Shannon Boxx arrived to her first training with the team on Thursday.
Rory Dames returns after leading the Red Stars the last two seasons to league finals and the U.S. National Cup Championship in 2012. He's anticipating a strong match-up between his team and Seattle Reign FC. "They have a very high level coach with a lot of experience as a championship winning team in England's top flight," said Dames. "I'm sure it will be a battle for 90 minutes."
Laura Harvey was appointed as Seattle's first-ever head coach, after having won three league titles with Arsenal Ladies, England's top women's club team. In 2011, Harvey and the Arsenal Ladies won the FA WSL title, FA Cup, and Continental Cup. In 2012, Arsenal went undefeated with Harvey at the helm, scoring a league-high 39 goals in 14 matches.
Dames is operating under the assumption that Seattle's team will hold themselves to similar expectations of the Arsenal squad led by Harvey for the last three years. Citing players in particular, "they have a great player in Keelin Winters," said Dames. They also have Kate Deines, a Washington native from Issaquah, WA, who played for Sounders Women of the USL W-League with current teammates Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe.
Both Solo and Rapinoe are currently unavailable for the season opener but are expected to re-join the team later this summer. Solo recently underwent surgery on her wrist and Rapinoe is currently on loan to Lyon, a top club in France's Ligue 1. National teamer Amy Rodriguez was also allocated with Solo and Rapinoe, but is not participating this season after an announcement that she will be expecting her first child.
Like Seattle, Chicago has seen a majority of its pre-season without some key players. The Red Stars were dealt an early blow with the news that U.S. National Team defender and Gold medalist Amy LePeilbet would miss the season after having reconstructive knee surgery in February. Supplemental draft pick and two-time Olympic Gold medalist Lindsay Tarpley is continuing rehab on a previous knee injury and is expected to join the team in the coming months. Boxx, Garza, and Dominguez have only arrived with the team a few days before the opener.
Unlike Seattle, the Red Stars spent their pre-season entirely in the US, including a week in Austin, Texas, while the Reign recently returned from a preseason camp where they played three games against top teams in Japan, going 2-1 in those matches.
Red Stars co-captain Leslie Osborne says that opportunity only enhances their team chemistry and cohesion.
Like Chicago in Austin, Osborne thinks Seattle's Japan trip provided an invaluable bonding experience for their team. "They will be coming here having enhanced their team chemistry after traveling to Japan together, and they've had experience playing against international teams in top flight ahead of the season," said Osborne. "They'll be going into this game with a chip on their shoulders and a point to prove - kind of like us - after being without some of their key players as a regular part of their squad."
But these elements will make for an exciting season opener for both teams. "They are a really good opponent for a home opener," said Osborne. "We're not worrying about other teams, though. Our pre-season has been progressive; we have a core foundation. We've connected and bonded on and off the field. We're focused on working hard and winning."
Kickoff is at 5pm at Benedictine University Sports Complex in Lisle, IL. Single game and season tickets are on sale now at chicagoredstars.com. The first game also carries several ticket specials including $5 tickets for Illinois Women's Soccer League players and $5 tickets for any College faculty, staff, or students with ID. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
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