Press, Johnston, Short, DiBernardo and Naeher honored
Chicago – The Chicago Red Stars announced today the winners of the club’s 2016 Team Awards, as voted by fans, players and staff. While captain Christen Press was recognized as Most Valuable Player, Julie Johnston was honored as Defensive MVP, defender Casey Short as Rookie of the Year, midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo as Unsung Hero and Alyssa Naeher as Iron Woman of Character.
Christen Press, in her first year as captain for Chicago, led the league with the best goals-per-game average (0.57), finishing with eight goals in regular season. Throughout the season the U.S. international came up big for her club, including notching three game-winning goals. A constant pressure on opponents’ back lines and consistently being double-teamed, Press still found numerous opportunities to shoot on frame – with 39 shots on goal, good enough for first in NWSL.
Julie Johnston stepped into a new role in 2016, leading a young back line and continuing to show why she is one of the best defenders in the NWSL. The Red Stars defense finished the season conceding just 20 goals, strong enough for the second fewest in league. With the help of goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and the rest of the Red Stars defense, Johnston and company created a new NWSL record 485-minute shutout streak from April 16 to May 22. The U.S. international played every minute of the 12 games in which she appeared this season and was a driving force behind the Red Stars recording eight shutouts – tied for the league lead.
A huge piece of in the Red Stars defensive effort this season, Casey Short immediately made a name for herself in 2016, including being named the team’s Rookie of the Year. Short, 26, might be considered a rookie in the NWSL, but she showed that she was far from it in 2016. Acquiring 1,781 minutes during the regular season, Short showed with her athletic ability why she is one of the best in league regarding one-on-one defending. The scary part is the converted defender finds a way to get forward in the attack, netting 2 goals, despite just taking 8 shots on net.
Attacking midfielder DiBernardo ranked as the team’s assists leader once again, coming in with seven total assists, strong enough for second overall in league. The third-year player gained a tremendous amount of leadership this year, including being named captain in place of Press when she was on Olympic duties. DiBernardo led the team with 1,787 total minutes.
After being acquired by Chicago in the offseason, Alyssa Naeher started 13 games for the Red Stars and finished tied for first in NWSL with six clean sheets. A true example of what it means to be a part of the Red Stars day in and day out, Naeher played with intensity, provided 100% effort and was an amazing teammate on and off the field in her first year in Chicago. A huge presence in the net for the Red Stars, Naeher earned NWSL Player of the Month honors for May after allowing one goal in four matches and posting three shutouts. Additionally, Naeher, along with the Red Stars back line, set a then NWSL record 485-minute shutout streak from April 16 to May 22. Chicago finished tied for the second fewest goals allowed this season.
Chicago will return to Toyota Park in 2017 and look to bring a championship home with a strong team that has gain invaluable experience in 2016. Season tickets may be purchased by clicking here.
2016 Chicago Red Stars Team Awards
Most Valuable Player (MVP): Christen Press
Defensive MVP: Julie Johnston
Rookie of the Year: Casey Short
Unsung Hero: Vanessa DiBernardo
Iron Woman of Character: Alyssa Naeher