Nearly every person bold enough to make predictions for the 2010 WPS season forecasted that the Chicago Red Stars would finish towards the bottom of the table. (Guilty as charged, by the way). They were generally lumped into the same tier as the expansion teams Atlanta Beat and the Philadelphia Independence. And why was that? Because the Red Stars of 2010 is essentially a new team.
Coach Emma Hayes has demolished the team credo that led the Red Stars to a disappointing sixth place finish last year. A philosophy that didn’t serve a side that never seemed to click as a unit, went winless for nine matches last year and led the leagues in yellow cards. The team shed some of its marquee names and opted to bring in players who were big on promise but thin on much professional experience. Players like Casey Nogueira, Jessica McDonald, Kosovare Asllani and Whitney Engen come to mind.
Would this team forge an identity? Would this be a cohesive unit or just a team of individually-talented players? Would the Red Stars scrap and fight and show heart? With Katie Chapman occupying the center of midfield, the answers appear to all be in the affirmative.
Hayes’ m.o. is fairly clear: create a fluid midfield that can outpass, outwit and outrun teams with the likes of Brittany Klein, Cristiane and Julianne Sitch. Utilize the flanks and then get the ball into the box where one of practically eight players can score.
For an ambitious, attacking philosophy like this to work there’s one piece that absolutely must be fulfilled: a holding midfielder. A player who can scrap for loose balls, cut off opposing passing channels, doggedly break up play, tackle when necessary, avoid cluttered spaces by passing the ball out wide and can take a shot at goal if the opportunity arrives. Fortunately, Katie Chapman appears to be just the woman for the job.
by Jenna Pel. 4/5/2010.
Hamm. Foudy. Chastain. Fawcett.
A little over a decade ago, these were much more than names. In a sense, they were couriers of women’s athletics as a whole. The first generation of the U.S. Women’s National Team achieved fame and commercial success historically only reserved for male athletes. Few female athletes have done it before, perhaps none have done it since. For several years they transcended the soccer fields they played on. They were dependable pitch women and the architects of a professional women’s league and (it can’t be said enough) role models for millions of young girls. This one included.
The legacy that these foremothers have left us with is well-documented. Despite the collapse of WUSA in 2003, the cultural and sporting impact that the 99ers made cannot be overstated. At the school I work at, I once asked one of my soccer-loving, third-grade students who her favorite female soccer player was. Her answer: Mia Hamm. This despite being born one year after the WNT hoisted the Women’s World Cup in the Rose Bowl. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t mention Abby Wambach or Hope Solo or Heather O’Reilly but regardless, her curt answer reminded me that the legacy of the 99ers lives on. The WPS logo does bear a striking resemblance to Mia Hamm’s likeness, after all.
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We continue our daily previews of every WPS club for the 2010 season. Keep in mind, we’re beginning from the bottom of 2009’s standings. Check out yesterday’s FC Gold Pride preview here.
The Chicago Red Stars began the 2009 Women’s Professional Soccer season with much promise. The club had a solid midfield comprised of seasoned Women’s National Team stars Carli Lloyd, Lindsay Tarpley and Megan Rapinoe. They had a young and dynamic coach in Emma Hayes, who made a name for herself with the storied Arsenal Ladies side. They also had the beautiful Toyota Park to call home, complete with a very active fan base mobilized in part by then-General Manager Peter Wilt. And perhaps most significantly, they had the best-looking kits in the league.