Chicago Head Coach banks on young team’s increased maturity
By Gunnar Berndt
CHICAGO, Ill. – Fresh off what has been widely considered a highly successful NWSL College Draft for the Red Stars, Head Coach Rory Dames recently shared his thoughts on how his team can translate the promise it showed throughout 2014 into a 2015 playoff appearance. In analyzing previous performances, Dames drew comparisons with the two sides that dominated the competition last year, Shield winners Seattle Reign and champions FC Kansas City.
“I think we showed that we can play with anybody in the league,” he offered. “But in order to be a team that can win a championship, you have to show consistency throughout the season, which Seattle did last year and Kansas City has done in the past two years. I don’t think we’ve been able to do that. We’ve gone in spurts. In 2013 we started very poor and finished very well. In 2014 we started very well, hit kind of a rocky stretch in the middle and then closed out decently.”
Over the course of the previous campaign, many pundits praised Chicago for its defensive organization and intelligent tactical setup, both indicators that the strategy implemented by Dames has been bearing fruit. Ever since signing with the club four years ago, the Red Stars Head Coach has placed a heavy emphasis on identifying and developing young prospects as well as their integration into a cohesive system. He acknowledged the progress made by his squad in 2014.
“We were tied with Kansas City for the second fewest losses in the league last year,” Dames said. “We gave up the second fewest goals, behind Seattle. I believe in measuring yourself against the best, and those two teams were the best.
“We played at Seattle twice. In the first game we had the lead and ended up losing, and then we tied them in the second game. The one game we played against them in Chicago, we beat them. We also played at Kansas City twice and lost 1-0 each time with chances to tie those games. They came to Chicago once and we beat them. I think the fact that we played the two best teams in the league four times away and only twice at home was tough but also a good learning process for us.”
Chicago missed the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion in 2014, finishing tied on points with fourth-place Washington but losing out on the head-to-head tie breaker while boasting a significantly better goals-against average than the Spirit. According to Dames, his side’s inexperience was the determining factor in last season’s disappointment.
“We have to do a better job of understanding the importance of each game and to better manage games,” assessed the Chicago native. “The increased maturity of our young players could be key in that. We can’t be up two-nothing at halftime against Sky Blue at home and end up tying that game. Then there was the home game against Houston late in the season when we had them on their heels but were a little too flat and ended up tying zero-zero. Those are the situations we need to learn from.”
Dames concluded his analysis on a positive note, emphasizing the significance of team chemistry to performance.
“One of the reasons we are successful is that the girls genuinely like each other and get along very well, which translates into a good cohesion on the field,” he said. “Now it’s all about taking that next step and getting into the playoffs.”
The 2015 Chicago Red Stars campaign kicks off in mid-April. Season tickets start at $145 and may be purchased by calling 773-697-8699 or by clicking here.