The 2014 NWSL Draft saw the Chicago Red Stars acquire three players that would become an integral part of the team’s core and culture to this day, as well as the arrival of a soon-to-be member of the first team.
Chicago’s 2014 Draft began with the number three overall pick which was acquired from Seattle Reign FC in a trade. With that selection, the Red Stars would select Julie Ertz (formerly Johnston) from Santa Clara University. Ertz would go on to win the league’s Rookie of the Year that season, kicking off a domestic career that would see her appear in 101 NWSL games as well as the NWSL’s Best XI in 2015 and the Second XI three straight years in a row. Ertz’s already established international career would reach new heights at the senior level during this time, appearing in 103 U.S Women’s National Team games and playing a starting role in the team’s two World Cup victories (2015, 2019) while also earning a spot in the FIFPro Women’s World 11 twice (2015, 2019) and being named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year twice (2017, 2019).
The Red Stars would follow that pick with their natural fourth overall, where they took Ertz’s USWNT U20 World Cup-winning teammate: Naperville native Vanessa DiBernardo. After a collegiate career that would see DiBernardo leave as the Fighting Illini’s all-time leader in assists and tied for the lead in shots, she would become one of the team’s undisputed leaders in the midfield with 140 total appearances, 12 goals, and 22 assists. During the 2016 season, DiBernardo’s seven assists was a team-high and the second-highest total in the league during a year which saw her named a member of the NWSL Second XI.
The second round of the 2014 Draft would see the Red Stars make another trade, this time parting with the 11th overall pick which would go to the then-Boston Breakers. In return, Chicago not only acquired a third-rounder for the following year’s draft, but also the rights to another Naperville native, Casey Short. A former fifth overall pick in the previous year’s draft, Short would eventually make her Red Stars debut in 2016 after having a successful year with Norway’s Avaldsnes where she would make the Toppserien 2015 Best XI. Short has since totaled 84 appearances for the Red Stars, finishing her debut season in ‘16 on the league’s Second XI and later making two appearances on the Best XI (‘17, ‘19) as well as being named to NWSL’s Team of the Month twice in 2019 (April, May). Short also has 32 senior caps for the USWNT, being part of the SheBelieves Cup roster twice (‘18, ‘20) and a member of the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship roster.
Although not drafted by Chicago, Kealia Watt would be drafted out of North Carolina by the Houston Dash with the second overall pick of the draft. Following a Houston career that saw her score 28 goals in 114 appearances, Watt would be traded to Chicago prior to the 2020 season. In 10 games played for the Red Stars during both the Challenge Cup and Fall Series combined, Watt would finish with two goals and assists each. Watt also has three senior USWNT caps after having a successful youth career that included scoring the only and game-winning goal in the U20 Women’s World Cup Final.
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