Chicago Red Stars defenders, Tierna Davidson and Casey Krueger, along with midfielders, Bianca St-Georges and Jill Aguilera, will join their respective national teams for the upcoming international FIFA window. Both Davidson and Krueger will join the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), while St-Georges joins the Canadian Women’s National Team (CANWNT) and Jill Aguilera joins the Puerto Rican Women’s National Team.
This is Davidson’s first call up since the September international break when the USWNT played two friendly matches against South Africa. In the first match, Davidson was available as a substitute, but was ultimately not subbed in. In the second match, which took place at Soldier Field in Chicago, Davidson started and played the full 90 minutes making that her 50th career appearance with the team. On September 30, when the Red Stars took on Racing Louisville FC, Davidson received an injury in the closing minutes of the match, which sidelined the defender for a few weeks, causing her to miss the matches between the USWNT and Colombia.
Naperville native, Casey Krueger, received her third-consecutive call up with the USWNT. For the September friendly matches against South Africa, Krueger subbed into the first match and started in the second match. In October, when the USWNT played Colombia in another pair of friendly matches, the defender subbed in off the bench in the first contest and was available for the second match but not subbed into the backline. With the USWNT, Krueger has 41 appearances and four assists.
Like Krueger, Bianca St-Georges joins the Canadian Women’s National Team for the third-consecutive time. In September, the Québécoise joined the CANWNT for a pair of matches that would determine the team’s participation in the upcoming summer Olympics. St-Georges did not feature in the two matches, but was available as a substitute. Last month, St-Georges joined the CANWNT as the team prepared to take on Brazil. The defender was available off the bench for both matches, but only subbed in for the first of the two meetings between the two teams.
Midfielder, Jill Aguilera, rejoins the Puerto Rican Women’s National Team after a successful outing with El Huracán Azul last month. The Caribbean team took on Trinidad and Tobago in a pair of matches in CONCACAF Road to W Gold Cup group play. Aguilera captained the Puerto Rican side in both matches and scored a goal for El Huracán Azul in the 54th minute of the first match. Puerto Rico’s win and draw against Trinidad and Tobago put them second with four points in League A of the group stage of the tournament just behind Mexico who leads the group with six points. Puerto Rico play Mexico in San Juan December 1 where a win could give Puerto Rico the lead in the group and increase the team’s chances of making it into the CONCACAF W Gold Cup. This is Aguilera’s sixth call-up since 2022 when she started playing with Puerto Rico.
The USWNT face China PR December 2 in Fort Lauderdale and December 5 in Frisco, Texas. The CANWNT take on Australia December 1 in Langford, British Columbia and December 5 in Vancouver. With these call-ups, the Red Stars now have four players on international duty. Midfielder, Julia Bianchi was called up by Brazil earlier this month.
In accordance with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) end-of-season process, the Chicago Red Stars announce the following roster updates.
The club exercised the option to midfielder, Jill Aguilera’s contract for the 2024 season. The midfielder made 15 appearances across all competitions for the Red Stars and played a pivotal role for the club, playing multiple positions throughout the season. Aguilera made several appearances with the Puerto Rican Women’s National Team this year and scored while serving as captain in her most recent appearances with the team.
Defender, Taylor Malham, whose contract was set to expire at the end of 2023, was offered a new contract by the Red Stars. Malham joined the Red Stars earlier this year during preseason training and earned an initial one-year contract with the club. The defender ended the season with seven appearances and three starts with the Red Stars across all competitions.
The Red Stars are currently in negotiations with forward, Yuki Nagasato, whose mutual contract option was not exercised thereby making the long-time Red Star a free agent.
The club also decided to not exercise the option in the contract of forward, Chelsie Dawber. Dawber was previously loaned to Swedish side, IFK Norrköping.
The Red Stars currently have 16 players under contract as the club prepares for the NWSL Expansion Draft taking place Friday, December 15.
Goalkeepers: Alyssa Naeher, Mackenzie Wood (Loan)
Defenders: Samantha Feller, Amanda Kowalski, Tatumn Milazzo, Arin Wright
Midfielders: Jill Aguilera, Julia Bianchi, Samantha Fisher, Sophie Jones, Addie McCain
Forwards: Jenna Bike, Ava Cook, Sarah Griffith, Penelope Hocking, Ally Schlegel
Laura Ricketts says Leetzow is a “committed advocate for women in sports”
Trailblazing Woman Sports Exec, Lawyer, Led U.S. Soccer Reforms on Safety, Pay Equity
The Chicago Red Stars have appointed accomplished sports executive and attorney Karen Leetzow as the club’s new president. Leetzow joins the Red Stars after serving as the chief legal officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation, where she oversaw the independent investigation into abuse and sexual misconduct in women’s soccer and also helped lead the successful negotiations for an agreement to ensure equal pay for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.
“Karen is a committed advocate for women in sports and her work with the U.S. Soccer Federation leadership team to create a new culture is beyond compare,” said Laura Ricketts, Chicago Red Stars principal owner. “In her distinguished career she has gone beyond barriers and blazed a path for women to have a seat at the table of the C-suite of major sports enterprises and she has assured our athletes are protected and have a level playing field.”
Before assuming the top legal role at U.S. Soccer, Leetzow was the first woman to serve as NASCAR’s general counsel.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to join Laura Ricketts and her group of accomplished women business and civic leaders in changing the culture at the Chicago Red Stars and to build a championship organization on and off the pitch,” said Leetzow. “I look forward to working with every team member in the business and technical staff of the Red Stars to achieve Laura’s goal of creating a championship culture of excellence and accountability.”
Leetzow played a pivotal role in leading U.S. Soccer through a definitive period of change while fostering an inclusive environment that positively impacted not just the Federation but soccer at every level.
In her role at U.S. Soccer, Leetzow helped U.S. Soccer leadership select former U.S. Justice Department official Sally Q. Yates to conduct the independent investigation into women’s soccer. Leetzow oversaw the Yates investigation and the resulting report found abusive behavior towards athletes endemic in women’s soccer, beginning in the youth game. The findings were shared publicly and the groundbreaking Yates investigation ultimately resulted in major changes, including some coaching dismissals and the U.S. Soccer Federation launching numerous safety reforms throughout youth and women’s soccer. The organization also called on Congress to strengthen the Center for Safesport, a federal office designed to protect young athletes.
Leetzow also took over the U.S. National Soccer teams’ collective bargaining negotiations which, prior to her involvement, turned into an acrimonious fight. Leetzow and U.S. Soccer successfully achieved a deal that provided equal pay for U.S. National Women’s Soccer and parity in the agreements for men and women players, including family-friendly provisions.
JT Batson, CEO of U.S. Soccer shared, “Karen has been an invaluable colleague and everyone at U.S. Soccer congratulates her on this well-deserved opportunity. Her leadership, strategic vision, and commitment to inclusivity will be felt throughout the Red Stars and the NWSL. We look forward to witnessing her continued success in the next chapter of her career.”
“It is an honor to work with Laura and the league to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our athletes, team associates and fans,” said Leetzow, who begins December 4th.
Chicago Red Stars midfielder, Julia Bianchi, will join the Brazilian Women’s National Team for their upcoming friendly matches against Japan and Nicaragua in Brazil.
This will be Bianchi’s second time joining Brazil’s national team this year. The midfielder’s first call-up came back in February when she joined the team for the annual SheBelieves Cup. In that tournament, Bianchi started for Brazil in the opening match against Japan, which the team won, 0-1. Bianchi’s experience with Brazil’s national team includes 12 games played and one goal, which she scored in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup. The Brazilian also spent time with the Under-20 and Under-17 national teams.
In her first season with the Chicago Red Stars, and in the National Women’s Soccer League, Bianchi played in 19 matches, made 15 starts and recorded five assists for the club, which was the second highest assist total in the league. While Bianchi didn’t score in the regular season, the Brazilian national did score in the Red Stars’ friendly match against the Mexican Women’s National Team. In the 40th minute of the match, Bianchi stepped up to take the corner kick for the Red Stars, but instead of finding one of her teammates, Bianchi’s strike curved the ball past the goalkeeper and straight into the net. Following her impressive first season with the Red Stars, Bianchi’s teammates and the club supporters named the midfielder the Red Stars’ Newcommer of the Year for 2023.
Bianchi and the Brazilian Women’s National Team take on Japan in a pair of matches November 30 and December 3, then take on Nicaragua December 6, which will be the first meeting between Nicaragua and Brazil.
While Chicago’s 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season ended October 15, four Red Stars weren’t quite done. Midfielders Jill Aguilera and Bianca St-Georges, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and defender Casey Krueger all received the call to represent their countries during the October FIFA international break. Here’s a look at how our Red Stars fared with their national teams.
Joining the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), Krueger and Naeher traveled first to Sandy, Utah, October 26 then to San Diego, California, October 29 for a pair of friendlies against Colombia. Both Krueger and Naeher appeared in the October 26 match, with Krueger coming on for Portland’s Crystal Dunn in the 67th minute of the scoreless draw, and Naeher getting the start in goal. While revitalizing the USWNT back line to help keep Colombia off the board, Krueger also received a pass from USWNT debutante Jaedyn Shaw in the 89th minute. Krueger attempted a shot, but it was ultimately blocked by the Colombian defense.
The October 26 affair marked Naeher’s 11th start in 2023 as well as her 97th appearance with the national team, and the keeper saved both of Colombia’s only shots on goal during the match. The shutout was Naeher’s ninth of 2023, tying her career best clean sheet record. The keeper previously recorded nine shutouts in 2018 and 2019. Naeher is now one clean sheet shy of her 60th career shutout.
St-Georges and the Canadian Women’s National Team (CANWNT) faced off against Brazil in Montréal, Québec, October 28 and Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 31. St-Georges, playing as a defender on the CANWNT, subbed on for teammate Ashley Lawrence in the 65th minute of the October 28 matchup. Entering second half stoppage time in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,629 strong in Montréal, Brazil and Canada were on track to play to a scoreless draw. However, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Brazilian midfielder Debinha rocketed off a shot from distance that deflected off goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan to secure a last-minute 0-1 victory for Brazil. St-Georges was available off the bench for Canada when they claimed a 2-0 shutout over Brazil in the rematch in Halifax, but did not ultimately make an appearance.
Jill Aguilera captained the Puerto Rico squad in their pair of outings against Trinidad and Tobago in CONCACAF Road to W Gold Cup group play. Puerto Rico traveled to Trinidad and Tobago October 27 before hosting Trinidad and Tobago October 31. Puerto Rico took an early lead in the October 27 matchup with a goal in the 30th minute. Aguilera took advantage of a loose ball in the 54th minute, burying an unstoppable shot in the top left corner of the net for Puerto Rico’s second goal of the 1-2 victory. Aguilera also had two shots in the first 30 minutes of the October 31 scoreless draw, but both shots were saved by Trinidad and Tobago’s keeper. Puerto Rico now sits second in Group A, where the group winners automatically qualify for the CONCACAF W Gold Cup and the Group A runners-up still have a chance to qualify through the upcoming W Gold Cup preliminary rounds.
Chicago Red Stars midfielder, Jill Aguilera, will join the Puerto Rican Women’s National Team in their upcoming matches in the CONCACAF Women’s Road to Gold Cup tournament.
Aguilera will join El Huracán Azul for the fifth time since her first call up in 2022. The midfielder scored her first goal for Puerto Rico in the 66th minute of her international debut April 8, 2022. Aguilera has recorded two goals and three starts across five appearances for Puerto Rico, captaining the squad for the first time in a friendly against Mexico in April 2023.
With two seasons in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) under her belt, Aguilera has recorded 36 appearances and eight starts across all NWSL competitions. The California native’s rookie campaign with Chicago saw her accumulate five starts and a 70.6 percent passing accuracy throughout 17 regular season matches. In 2023, Aguilera was a utility player for the team, stepping in whenever and wherever she was needed to total 15 appearances with 3 starts across all competitions.
Aguilera started for El Huracán Azul in their match against Mexico Friday, September 22. The midfielder played all 90 minutes for the Puerto Rican side that found itself leading Mexico 1-0 after a forced own goal in the 11th minute. Despite the strong start, Mexico did walk away with the win after a goal in extra time in the first half and a second goal in the 59th minute. That is Puerto Rico’s only loss in five games. El Huracán Azul earned draws against their previous 4 opponents.
Looking forward, Puerto Rico will face Trinidad and Tobago Friday, October 27, in Trinidad and Tobago and again Tuesday, October 31, in Puerto Rico. Both teams, which have zero points, find themselves trailing Mexico who tops the group with six points. Puerto Rico can earn a spot in the 2024 W Gold Cup by either winning their group, or coming in second and winning a playoff round of matches in February.
Aguilera is the fourth Red Star selected to represent their country in upcoming international matches. The midfielder joins goalkeeper, Alyssa Naeher (United States), defender, Casey Krueger (United States), and midfielder, Bianca St-Georges (Canada) all of which will be in action during this international window.