Team History: The Chicago Red Stars were officially created in 2007 by the two owners of FC Indiana. But, the team’s origin can be traced back to 2006 when the owners brought in Peter Wilt to serve as CEO and build support for a women’s soccer team in Illinois. Wilt was the founding GM of the Chicago Fire and a legendary leader in US soccer.
The Coach: Chicago has hired Emma Hayes, a Brit, to be their head coach. Hayes is a former assistant with Arsenal Ladies FC, the most dominant team in the Women’s Premier League. Prior to her time with the Gunners, she coached at Iona College in Rochelle, New York where she was named MAAC Coach of the Year. She’s young, but ready to lead.
The Players: The Red Stars have a very strong side. Carli Lloyd was the 2008 US Soccer Player of the Year. Rapinoe and Tarpley are solid up top and Carney has a nose for the net. They also have signed Cristiane, the mercurial forward from Brazil. Kate Markgraf will miss time as she is expecting her second child, but she is a stingy defender.
The Venue: The Red Stars will play their games on the same pitch as the Fire at Toyota Park. Toyota Park is a national soccer jewel and one of the finest soccer specific stadiums built so far. Just like the Fire, the Red Stars also already have a supporters’ group, Local 134, named after a section of the stadium. Chicago obviously loves its soccer.
The Prediction: I think the Red Stars will have a decent first season, and I believe their attacking style (they have four talented forwards) will push them toward the top of the table. Their lack of depth on defense is the only thing I worry about. On a side note, while I like the team’s name, I understand that they held a poll among fans to pick it, and another name, the “Stinking Onions”, actually made a long-shot run at the title. Red Stars is a nice name, but the Stinking Onions would have been fantastic. I can see the t-shirts now:
“Fear The Onions, They’ll Make You Cry!”