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January 13, 2024

Red Stars Select Five Players During 2024 NWSL Draft

The Chicago Red Stars selected five players and made four trades during the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft.  

The team wasted no time and kicked off an active day with a trade of the third overall pick in the draft for Washington Spirit defender, Sam Staab. The 26-year-old Staab was a finalist for the NWSL’s 2023 Defender of Year award. Staab is also a three-time NWSL Ironwoman having played every available regular-season minute for the third time in her career. Early last season, Staab set a new league record for most consecutive regular-season starts after passing fellow Spirit teammate Amber Brooks whose previous record was 72 consecutive starts.   

The San Diego native earned Best XI of the month honors in March, April and May of last season and has now earned Best XI of the month five times in her career.   

After welcoming a new defender, the team said goodbye to longtime Red Star, Arin Wright. The club honored a trade requested by Wright who wanted to continue her career in Louisville in her home state of Kentucky to be closer to family. Across nine seasons with the Red Stars, Wright has played in 173 matches, with 161 starts and scored three goals with 12 assists across all competitions. This past season Wright made her 141st regular-season start with the club, setting a new record for most starts in club history. Wright also served as team captain in 2023 while goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was away from the team.   

Before the draft kicked off, the team made one last trade with the North Carolina Courage for the 10th overall pick in exchange for $175,000 in allocation money.  

With the pick acquired from the North Carolina, Chicago selected Leilanni Nesbeth from Florida State University. Leilanni Nesbeth is a midfielder from Florida State University (FSU). As a Seminole in 2023, Nesbeth started in 21 games, scored two goals with five assists in 1,617 minutes of play. She is recognized as a leader in the midfield, helping FSU record 14 shutouts in 23 games. Throughout her career at FSU, she earned impressive accolades such as National Champion (2021, 2023), NCAA Tournament All-Tournament Team (2023) and All-ACC Second Team (2022, 2023).  

Due to their trade with Racing Louisville FC, the Red Stars were the first team to pick in the second round of the draft. With the 15th overall pick, the Red Stars selected Jameese Joseph, from North Carolina State University. The east coast native appeared and started in all 17 matches in the 2023 season recording three goals and one assist. Joseph finished her NC State career ranked eighth in stars in program history with 87 and sixth in shots with 237. She completed her collegiate career with 24 goals, 10 assists and 58 points and earned Third Team All-ACC honors in her senior year. Before joining NC State, Joseph was called up to the US Women’s Youth National Team camp in 2016. 

Originally holding the 17th overall pick, the Red Stars opted to trade their position in the draft order to Seattle Reign for $125,000 in allocation money.  

With two picks in the third round, Chicago selected Hannah Anderson, from Texas Tech University, and Bea Franklin from the University of Arkansas. Both Anderson and Franklin are decorated players with Anderson being named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2023 and Franklin as the SEC Midfielder of the Year. 

For their final pick of the night the Red Stars selected Celia Gaynor, from Michigan State University. Gaynor was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection last season with MSU and contributed to nine shutouts. Gaynor started in 42 of 43 matches over her collegiate career and scored five goals.  

The Red Stars’ 2023 draft picks and the rest of the players will report to preseason camp in the coming weeks before the start of the 2024 season. Season tickets for the Red Stars’ 2024 campaign are available now at ChicagoRedStars.com.

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