CHICAGO – For the second year in a row, the Chicago Red Stars will travel to Houston to play the Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season opener. Game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday, April 15, at BBVA Compass Stadium.
“It’s been a good preseason and hopefully we can make it to the finals this year and pull off a win,” said midfielder Danielle Colaprico.
With preseason out of the way, the final 20-player roster hope to get back on track to being a three-time NWSL Playoff contestant. Seventeen players return to the Red Stars roster, looking to build from last season’s success to push even further in the league.
“It helps having those 17 players – that core,” said defender Samantha Johnson. “It’s the same bulk of players trying to build what we want to do, ultimately, which is win the championship.”
Chicago will look to start off the season on the right foot as they fell to the Dash, 1-3, in the 2016 NWSL season opener in Houston.
In this Saturday’s matchup, the Dash will be without regular captain and U.S. WNT captain, Carli Lloyd, due to her loan to Manchester City. However, Houston returned some seasoned veterans in Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams, Kaelia Ohai (2016 Best XI and 11 goals) and England international Rachel Daly (4 assists). The Dash also acquired several skillful newcomers in South Africa international Janine Van Wyk, Canadian international Nichelle Prince and goalkeeper Jane Campbell, who found her first WNT minutes in the USA’s 5-1 win against Russia this past weekend.
Despite Houston’s vast roster changes, Chicago’s 17 core players have just what it takes to dominate the league this season. Attacking threats Christen Press (8 goals) and Sofia Huerta (7 goals) will look to breakdown defensive back lines from the get go. The Red Stars backline includes two U.S. internationals, Julie (Johnston) Ertz and Casey Short, plus NWSL Best XI honoree Arin Gilliland, who will look to assist goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (6 clean sheets).
“We’ve worked so hard to put the puzzle pieces together, and the timing is right for us,” said Johnson. “We have the pieces to win. We just have to execute.”
As two-time NWSL Semifinalists, the Red Stars will aim to defeat the drought and advance to the finals for the first time in club history, bringing the championship trophy to Chicago.
“The experience in both those semifinals really helped us and this year, we’re pushing for that final,” said Colaprico.
“Hopefully this is the year,” said Johnson. “This is our time.”
You can catch Chicago take on Houston on April 15 at 1 p.m. CT at BBVA Compass Stadium (live on go90, NWSLsoccer.com or the NWSL app). Tickets for Chicago’s April 22 home opener against FC Kansas City are available for here or by calling 773-697-8699.
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