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CHICAGO – As another NWSL season comes and goes, we take a look back at some of the key plays, games and exciting points that made 2018 special for the Chicago Red Stars. In the first portion of “A Look Back” we take a look at the beginning of it all.

January: Roster Movement
The draft brings around plenty of excitement for Chicago fans. Known as the “draft master,” Rory Dames never takes this day lightly. Months of planning and film leads to a day that looks to make the team better ahead of the season. The draft in 2018 was no different.

With no picks until the second round, behind-the-scenes Dames was already working away and putting his magic touch on a trade. Chicago traded forward Christen Press, the seventh pick in the draft and a 2018 international spot to the Houston Dash in exchange for Carli Lloyd and Janine Beckie and the sixth and 24th pick in the draft.

As part of a three-team trade, Chicago sent Lloyd, Beckie, forward Jen Hoy and the sixth and 13th pick in the draft to Sky Blue FC in exchange for Sam Kerr, Nikki Stanton and the fifteenth overall pick in the draft.

Meanwhile, the draft was still on and Chicago’s first pick, number 15 overall, was coming up. Emily Boyd would become the first pick for Chicago and the first ever goalkeeper drafted by the Red Stars. The draft would continue with Chicago drafting Indigo Gibson (18th pick), Brianna Visali (19th pick), Megan Buckingham (24th pick), Zoey Goralski (27th pick) and finished with Alexa Ben (37th pick).

After the Boston Breakers folded, the players from the team were drafted through the Dispersal Draft and each team received extra slots on their roster to make room for talented players looking for a new home. At the end of the month, Chicago acquired New Zealand international Rosie White, 2018 College Draft picks Ashton Miller and Joanna Boyles, and the rights to form U.S. Women’s National Team defender Whitney Engen.

February: Report for Camp
With a push to begin earlier this season, Chicago reported to camp mid-February and began running with a roster of 32 players looking to compete for the coveted roster spots. Along with the draft picks, Chicago invited Ryann Torerro, Chandra Eigenberger, Corinne Harris, Chrsitina Murillo and Erin Yenney after they performed well in open tryouts.

After a strong showing in the two closed preseason matches, all players minus Harris moved onto the second part of preseason. The team headed to Portland for their second preseason in as many years to prepare in the Thorns Spring Invitational.

After wins in the round-robin tournament against the Thorns and Dash, the Red Stars would win the tournament, only dropping points in the final match against the U-23 USWNT. With the tournament ending and season coming up the coaching staff was left to return to the drawing board and figure out who would be receiving contracts as part of the 2018 roster.

The Chicago Red Stars roster began to come to light as Chicago announced they were going to carry 21 players to kick off the season and look to head to Houston for the first game of the NWSL season. In total, the team carried two goalkeepers (Boyd, Alyssa Naeher), six defenders (Taylor Comeau, Arin Gilliland, Sarah Gorden, Sam Johnson, Katie Naughton, Casey Short), eight midfielders (Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Julie Ertz, Lauren Kaskie, Alyssa Mautz, Nikki Stanton, Michele Vasconcelos, Rosie White) and five forwards (Summer Green, Sofia Huerta, Sam Kerr, Stephanie McCaffrey, Yuki Nagasato).

Announcing the team was just the beginning of the start to season, as the team was just beginning to gel when injuries became a problem…

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