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Eight field players, two goalkeepers to battle for pro contracts

CHICAGO, Ill. – The Red Stars are excited to announce they have extended formal invitations for participation in the club’s NWSL preseason camp to a total of ten open tryouts participants. Head Coach Rory Dames and his staff identified eight field players and two goalkeepers during the club’s February combine event, which stretched over two separate days and saw dozens of hopefuls flooding the indoor training facilities of McCook Athletic and Exposition on the outskirts of Chicago.

“The overall quality this year was definitely higher than last year, which made the decisions more difficult,” said Dames. “The players we selected will be offered the opportunity to join us through April 6, which will give them about four weeks to make an impression. The numbers alone paint a pretty clear picture. If you compare ten invitees in 2015 to four in 2014, that’s an indicator of this year’s pool being deeper. We’re very excited about our current crop if candidates.”

When asked about his approach to finding potential “diamonds in the rough,” the Chicago Head Coach drew on the example of Red Stars defender Samantha Johnson, who was signed by the club after going undrafted and participating in last year’s open tryouts.

“What we look for are players who show some things that warrant an extended evaluation,” offered Dames. “That’s what we did with Sam last year. She stood out during the combine, but we weren’t quite sure yet and decided to bring her into the preseason. While in camp with us, she got better and better every day and eventually ended up starting regular season games.

“I don’t know that this year anyone stood out like Sam, but there are definitely players with potential and big upsides. There are a few candidates who have played professionally overseas and that experience could be important when our World Cup players are gone. So we’re hopeful that we may see another invitee come through in a big way for us.”

The man in charge of assembling a winning team went on to elaborate on the difference between day one of the open tryouts and day two, which featured a smaller group of candidates who had received callbacks.

“Day one was pretty physically demanding,” he said. “A lot of small-sided attacking drills that require recovering quickly and sprinting up and down. On the second day we opened up a bigger field to see who would still have enough energy to perform there and not disrupt their team’s flow. Obviously everyone at the event was very nervous, so we were looking for players who were able to get past that and show us flashes of something special.”

Dames and his staff were pleased with most participants’ response to the stern test of their fitness and endurance. As evidenced by many sports teams traveling to milder climate for their winter training, Chicago-like snow and freezing temperatures make it difficult for any athlete to stay in shape.

“The fact that eight field players were fit enough to perform and to get our attention makes us hopeful,” offered the Red Stars Head Coach. “It will be interesting to see how much better they can get as their physical condition continues to improve in camp. We’re very optimistic some of them will show enough progress to really challenge for a spot on the roster.”

The 2015 Chicago Red Stars campaign kicks off on April 18 with the team’s big home opener against Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and current Shield holders Seattle Reign FC. Single-game and season tickets may be purchased by calling 773-698-6001 or by clicking here.

Complete List of Red Stars Preseason Camp Invitees from Open Tryouts

Name Position
Jayden Barrett Forward
Michele Dalton Goalkeeper
Jackie Esterkamp Midfielder
Monica Gonyo Goalkeeper
Valerie Gonyo Defender
Natalie Horner Defender
Leigh Jakes Defender
Giuleana Lopez Midfielder-Forward
Kelley McCloskey Midfielder
Lillie Toaspern Midfielder-Forward

 

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