Chicago Red Stars in Reload After Sofia Huerta, Christen Press Exits



The Chicago Red Stars and Arsenal Football Club have looked like soulmates of sorts during the past few years. Chicago finished in the NWSL top four the past three seasons, but just couldn’t get over the championship hump.

In his final seasons, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was a master at making the Premier League top four, but just couldn’t get the Gunners into true title contenders. His final two years at the north London club saw the Gunners falling out of the Champions League and into the Europa League competition.

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In 2018 Arsenal finally went in a new direction, and began their rebuild (of sorts) under new manager Unai Emery, who was unveiled just last month. Emery is making over the side in his visage this summer transfer window.

Just this week the Red Stars traded away their all-time second leading scorer in Sofia Huerta, as part of a very complicated three way trade that was the final transaction of the overly dramatic Christen Press trade.

In January, Press, the Red Stars all-time leading scorer was traded away to Houston, but she didn’t care go to that team and didn’t like the way that she was traded so she didn’t report to Dash camp.

Her protracted transfer soap opera finally ended with the Red Stars acquiring her rights and a conditional first-round draft pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft from the Houston Dash in a trade for forward Sofia Huerta and defender Taylor Comeau.

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Then in a second transaction, Chicago traded Press’ rights to the Utah Royals FC, along with defender Samantha Johnson, in exchange for Brooke Elby, the number one overall NWSL College Draft pick in 2019, a first-round draft pick in 2019, along with conditional first and second-round picks in the 2020 draft and the first-round pick in 2021.

When you trade away your top two all time leading scorers (technically, Chicago traded away their top two scorers three times) within six months that sounds like a rebuild. When you get a ton of high draft picks, including the #1 overall next year, in return for trading away those high scorers, it’s the very paradigm of a rebuild…or is it?

Rebuilding for the future doesn’t mean conceding the present; not at all. It’s more of a reload when you think about it.

“I think this was an important win for this group, cuz of all talk this week about us throwing in the towel, and moving on to next year,” said Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames after a 2-0 win over the main team that they traded with, the Utah Royals.


The Red Stars may be sixth in the nine team league, but they were just three points off a playoff slot entering Saturday night’s pick up of all three points from the match with Utah.

Plus, they still have a very solid nucleus in place with which to build around.

“We’ve got the U.S. Player of the Year in our locker room, the Australian player of the year in our locker room, a pretty good goalie in our locker room, some World Cup winners,” said Dames.

“I think they took that (the narrative claiming the Red Stars have conceded the present and are now playing for the future) to heart and they came out with a great response today.”


Co-captain Julie Ertz is the face of the franchise, and one of the finest defenders on the world’s top rated United States Women’s National Team.

In goal, fellow USWNT member and another team co-captain Alyssa Naeher. Yuki Nagasoto is stellar, and Sam Kerr is up for a Best International Soccer Player and Best NWSL Player Award at a sports network’s award show next month.

In other words, if that #1 pick next year pans out, if some of those other high picks work out, they could easily break through to the NWSL title game in the not too distant future.

Regardless of how 2018 ends, this is the right time for a revamp. The past three seasons has seen the Red Stars reach the semifinals, but unable to advance beyond that. In a nine team league like the NWSL, it’s basically the dreaded proverbial “NBA hell,” and something needed to be done to shake up from this.

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For you non-basketball fans, NBA Hell is when you are good enough to make the playoffs every year, but will never get over a certain hump. It could be the conference championships, or the NBA Finals, but wherever the obstruction is, your team is also at the same time not bad enough to fall into the NBA Draft lottery, where you can you can blow it all up, rebuild and hopefully, eventually, break through to the next level.

As for Arsenal, they will be expected to keep competing for the top of the league, rebuild or not, as well.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Sound Cloud and YouTube. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to any and all of his.

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