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February 15, 2024

Six Chicago Red Stars Tabbed for International Duty

Six Chicago Red Stars, Jill Aguilera, Julia Bianchi, Sam Fisher, Natalia Kuikka, Alyssa Naeher and Mallory Swanson, have been called up to represent their respective countries during the upcoming FIFA international window. Naeher and Swanson will join the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), while Bianchi joins Brazil, Kuikka joins Finland, Aguilera joins Puerto Rico and Fisher joins El Salvador. 

Swanson earns her first call up since the April 2023 international window, returning to USWNT camp after sustaining an injury in the United States’ April 8, 2023, match against Ireland. Despite playing only six matches in 2023, Swanson’s seven goals led the National Team in scoring. Swanson will participate in camp but is not on the 23-player roster eligible for CONCACAF W Gold Cup play. 

This is Naeher’s first call up of 2024 as the USWNT enters an Olympics year. 2023 saw Naeher in the net for 11 of the United States’ 18 matches, and the goalkeeper did not record a loss on the year, accumulating seven wins and four draws. While bringing her career shutout tally up to 59 in 2023, only two goals managed to slip past Naeher’s experienced gloves. Notably, in the USWNT’s final 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup fixture, Naeher became the first goalkeeper (men or women) in history to both save and successfully take a penalty in a World Cup match. 

The United States will begin CONCACAF W Gold Cup group stage play February 20 in Carson, CA, where the team will take on the winner of the Guyana/Dominican Republic matchup February 17. The USWNT will then take on fellow Group A opponents Argentina February 23 and Mexico February 26. The top two teams in Group A and two best third-place finishers from all groups will move on the W Gold Cup quarterfinals, beginning March 2. 

Aguilera and Bianchi also join their respective countries for W Gold Cup play. Aguilera and Puerto Rico will take on Haiti February 17 as both teams vie for the wild card slot in Group B. In 2023, Aguilera captained El Huracán Azul three times in 2023 and scored two goals for Puerto Rico. If Puerto Rico secure a spot in W Gold Cup group play, Aguilera and Bianchi could find themselves facing off against each other in Brazil’s first group stage match February 21. Brazil will also take on Colombia February 24 and Panama February 27 in Group B. Bianchi was named to two Brazilian rosters in 2023, representing her country in the 2023 SheBelieves Cup and during the November/December international window for Brazil’s friendlies against Japan and Nicaragua. 

Fisher and Kuikka will represent El Salvador and Finland, respectively. This is Fisher’s first international call up after receiving her El Salvadoran passport and joining the country for their January camp as part of El Salvador’s preliminary W Gold Cup roster. El Salvador takes on Guatemala February 17, and the winner secures a place in Group C, first taking on Canada February 22. Kuikka and Finland are set for a friendly against the Philippines February 21 before opening play in the 2024 Pinatar Cup against Slovenia. Kuikka made her international debut for Finland in 2013 and has since earned 84 caps and scored three goals, as well as being named Finland National Player of the Year in 2017, 2020, 2021 and 2022. 

All six players will rejoin the Red Stars to finish the preseason after concluding their international duties. The Red Stars begin the 2024 National Women’s Soccer season March 16 when they take on the Utah Royals in Sandy, UT. The club returns to Chicago for their home opener at SeatGeek Stadium March 23 against Seattle Reign FC. Tickets are available now at chicagoredstars.com/tickets.

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