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Longtime Red Stars star Julie Ertz is one of the players traded earlier this month. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Longtime Red Stars star Julie Ertz is one of the players traded earlier this month. Photo by Jeff Vorva

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Sports Analysis: Red Stars in a state of flux after trades

ERTZ

Longtime Red Stars star Julie Ertz is one of the players traded earlier this month. Photo by Jeff Vorva

By Jeff Vorva
Correspondent

The next coach of the Chicago Red Stars will have his or her work cut out for them.

After two straight runner-up finishes in the NWSL playoffs, the team appeared to have been maybe a player or two away from getting over the hump and winning a championship.

Then, shortly after the Red Stars lost a 2-1 overtime decision to Washington on Nov. 20, coach Rory Dames resigned. Shortly after that was a damning story that came out in the Washington Post alleging Dames was verbally abusive to Red Stars players. Dames was also the team’s general manager.

The Red Stars announced a series of roster moves on Dec. 2 that has some big names leaving, including Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden. The Red Stars will receive roster protection for those still on the team in advance of the NSWL expansion draft.

One could say this team is in shambles.

Or, one could say the team is parting ways with players who wanted their ways to be parted, and the remainder of the roster features players who seemingly still want to be here.

The San Diego Wave and Angel City FC are coming in 2022, and next Thursday will be plucking unprotected players from NWSL teams’ rosters in the expansion draft.

According to a Red Stars news release, the team “reluctantly” shipped Ertz and Gorden to Angel City.

Ertz is an Olympian who was only able to play in a portion of one game for the Red Stars this year because of injuries. The Red Stars have been her only NWSL team and she has been a face of the franchise in recent seasons.

Gorden, a defender, played every minute of every game for the Red Stars in 2021 and requested a trade for personal reasons.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity the Chicago Red Stars have given me,” she said in a news release. “When I was drafted by the club in 2016, they took a chance on a local Chicago kid and from there have helped me grow to the player I am today.”

Katie Johnson and Makenzy Doniak requested trades and they will head to San Diego. The team also parted ways with 2021 draft pick Kelsey Turnbow in the deal.

In another trade, the team dealt Nicole Stanton to OL Reign FC, per her request, for a third-round draft pick.

As it did with the resignation of Dame, the club issued a statement as a whole rather than attaching anyone’s name to it.

“While it is always difficult to say goodbye to players who have given their all to the club, we wanted to accommodate personal requests for relocations, while also removing the stress of the upcoming expansion draft for the remainder of our roster,” the statement said. “After such a long season we wanted to provide additional time for players to rest emotionally without the worry of being unprotected.

“This also allows us to shift focus to building out the roster to make another championship run.”

That sounds logical.

While the roster is changing fast, there is still some strong talent that remains. Goalie Alyssa Naeher, forward Kealia Watt, defender Casey Krueger, forward Mallory Pugh, midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, midfielder Morgan Gautrat, Orland Park’s Tatumn Milazzo, midfielder Danielle Colaprico and defender Tierna Davidson were big parts of the 2021 team who are still with the team.

Is this team in disarray?

At this juncture, it’s easy to say that.

But once a coach is named and the rest of the roster is filled out that could change, eventually.

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