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January 18, 2024

Chicago Red Stars Sign Defender Natalia Kuikka

The Chicago Red Stars have signed defender, Natalia Kuikka, to a three-year contract. Kuikka joins the club from Portland Thorns FC.  

“What drew me to Chicago is their focus on rebuilding trust with the fans and the culture across the organization. Laura Rickett’s passion and vision for the club and her commitment to women’s soccer is inspiring, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this new era. Everyone has made me feel so valued and welcomed, which has made the transition to Chicago a lot easier,” said Kuikka. “It’s also an honor to learn, grow, and contribute under the leadership of Lorne Donaldson. I would like to extend my gratitude to the Chicago Red Stars for the opportunity to help this club grow and achieve success. Here’s to a fantastic season ahead and I’m ready to get to work with the rest of my teammates!” 

“We’re very happy to welcome Natalia to the Red Stars,” said Red Stars president, Karen Leetzow. “We are confident that her experience with Portland, in the Swedish first division and with Finland’s national team can help us re-establish a dominate backline.”  

Kuikka, who joined Portland Thorns in 2020, is a decorated player that was part of the Thorn’s 2022 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) championship team, helped the team win the 2021 Challenge Cup and the 2021 NWSL Shield. Over her three seasons with the Thorns, Kuikka has played in 78 matches with 65 starts and scored two goals with six assists across all competitions.   

In 2023, the Finnish international had two successful outings against the Red Stars in both contests between the teams. First, in May, Kuikka scored off a header on a ball that was crossed to the back post. In the teams’ second meeting, Kuikka delivered a ball to Portland’s Sophia Smith who opened the scoring in the 43rd minute of the match, earning the defender her second assist of the season.  

On the international level, Kuikka plays for the Finnish Women’s National Team, and currently has 84 appearances with the national team. Kuikka has served as captain of the Finnish national team, scored two goals and is a five-time National Player of the Year for Finland. In 2022, she led Finland to their first EURO appearance since 2013. 

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