Newcomer of the Year: Tierna Davidson
The top pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft, Davidson’s rookie campaign was impressive. Entering the season with national team experience she shined defensively for the Red Stars prior to earning a call-up for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s World Cup squad. Upon returning to Chicago with a World Cup gold medal, Davidson immediately slotted back into the defense and helped the Red Stars host a semifinal with an unbeaten run through the final month of the regular season. In the final five games of the regular season, Davidson and Chicago allowed a mere two goals, including a shutout performance for the Red Stars in their semifinal win over Portland en route to the team’s first-ever NWSL Championship appearance.
Iron Woman of Character: Julie Ertz
Since joining the club in 2015, Julie Ertz has represented the city of Chicago with pride. Her phenomenal talent combined with her girt is beloved by Red Stars fans. This year was no exception, as Ertz combined a World Cup victory in the summer with an NWSL Best XI appearance. She wasted no time returning to Chicago following the World Cup, playing in 16 games and was a key member in helping Chicago reach their first-ever semifinal appearance.
Unsung Heroes: Yuki Nagasato and Sarah Gorden
With the World Cup on the horizon, the Red Stars looked to their talented depth to help the team push for their fifth consecutive playoff appearance. Chicago native Sarah Gorden stepped up and produced the best season of her career. The defender took part in 25 of the 26 games, playing 2,234 minutes this season. Her 73.5% tackle success rate and 73.9% pass success rate were among the team’s best and her play was rewarded with her first-ever NWSL Team of the Month appearance in July.
It’s rare for a former World Cup champion and Olympic silver medalist to fly under the radar, but Nagasato’s brilliant 2019 season is so underrated. The midfielder produced NWSL career highs in goals and assists. Nagasato led the league with eight assists in 2019 while also featuring in the top 10 of the NWSL’s Golden Boot rankings for the season with eight goals. Nagasato did all this while starting in every game for the Red Stars this season, including both postseason games. Nagasato etched her name in Chicago’s history by providing the assist for the game-winning goal in Chicago’s 1-0 semifinal win.
Defensive MVP: Casey Short
Casey Short had one of the most impressive seasons in NWSL history. Her consistent play at a quality level earned her the distinction of becoming the only player in league history to feature in every edition of the league’s Team of the Month squad throughout a whole season. Short played in 25 out of the 26 games for the Chicago defense, helping guide them to a second-place finish and the team’s first-ever NWSL Championship appearance. Short contributed offensively as well, scoring twice and assisting in three more.
Team MVP: Sam Kerr
Sam Kerr continued to scorch opposing defenses in 2019. The Aussie broke the record for most goals in a single season with 18, smashing her own record she set in 2017. Kerr’s key appearances earned her NWSL Player of the Week honors a record six times in 2019. Her goal against Portland in the NWSL Semifinals lifted the Red Stars to their first-ever NWSL Championship appearance.