CHICAGO – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and the Australian W-League have exchanged multiple players throughout the years, with the Chicago Red Stars being one of the front runners at loaning a multitude of talent abroad.
The Red Stars began loaning players to the W-League in 2014 starting with defender Sam Johnson. Coming off her rookie season with Chicago Johnson embarked on her first stint abroad to Australia to play for Sydney FC.
The defender saw action in every game, helping advance her team advance to the Semifinals for the seventh-consecutive season after coming in fourth place during the regular season.
The following year Johnson stayed state-bound, but midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo was loaned to Perth Glory in the offseason after the completion of her second NWSL season.
In her first campaign abroad DiBernardo finished the season scoring a team-high six goals. More impressively, one of the midfielder’s goals gave her the league’s Goal of the Year honor.
For the 2016-17 W-League season, the Red Stars loaned eight players. New to taking their talents overseas, Danielle Colaprico, Arin Gilliland, Jen Hoy, Sofia Huerta, Alyssa Mautz and Katie Naughton joined returning players DiBernardo and Johnson to the new league.
Colaprico, Huerta and Naughton started every match for Adelaide United, finishing sixth in the league. Huerta finished the season with eight goals, the second-most goals at the club that season. Colaprico added two goals to Adelaide’s 31 goals, while Naughton helped lead the defense to earn Adelaide it’s second-highest finish in club history.
Gilliland and Hoy joined Newcastle Jets, finishing just out of playoff contention in fifth place. The Red Stars duo helped the attacking force as Gilliland finished with the second-most goals on the team with four, while Hoy tied for most goals with five.
Mautz joined Perth Glory with teammate DiBernardo, who played her second-consecutive season with the team. The midfielders played every match, helping propel the Glory to the Grand Finale, losing to Melbourne City. DiBernardo tallied six total goals during the season, including four from the penalty spot and two in the Semifinals.
Johnson switched teams for her second year abroad, joining Melbourne Victory. The defender made 11 appearances in an unsuccessful year with the Victory, finishing in last place.
The following year, four of the previous eight traveled back to Australia for the 2017-18 campaign. Gilliland came back to her former club of Newcastle, helping the team to a third-place finish and a playoff run. The defender tallied six goals, second-most on the team behind fellow American Katie Stengel (10), including one in the Semifinal and a hat trick during the regular season.
Colaprico and Naughton returned to Adelaide, while Mautz switched teams to join her teammates. Naughton and Mautz each scored goals with Colaprico adding one of her own. Unfortunately, Adelaide finished last in the regular season, but added a successful finish, earning six points in its final three games.