CHICAGO – Since their loss in the NWSL Championship Game on November 20th in Louisville, it’s been a tumultuous time for the Chicago Red Stars.
Manager Rory Dames, who was with the club since their entrance into the league, resigned ahead of a Washington Post report on him that revealed accusations of verbal and emotional abuse through the years.
It’s left the club in limbo since then ahead of the NWSL Expansion Draft on December 18th since Angel City FC and the San Diego Wave would likely look towards the Red Stars’ roster to build their team.
On Thursday, the club took steps to prevent that, but paid a heavy price to do so.
To get expansion draft protection from Angel City FC, the Red Stars dealt defenders Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden along with an international spot. To get the same from San Diego along with allocation money, the Red Stars traded forwards Katie Johnson and Makenzy Doniak along with 2021 draft pick Kelsey Turnbow.
In a separate move, the club also traded midfielder Nikki Stanton to the OL Reign for a third-round pick.
In the news release, the club had this general statement on the moves: “While it is always difficult to say goodbye to players who have given their all to the club, we wanted to accommodate personal requests for relocations, while also removing the stress of the upcoming expansion draft for the remainder of our roster. After such a long season we wanted to provide additional time for players to rest emotionally without the worry of being unprotected. This also allows us to shift focus to building out the roster to make another championship run. The club wishes these players well with their new teams and will continue to cheer for them from afar.”
Per the club, most of these moves were made by request, with Gorden seeking the move for personal reasons, while Doniak, Johnson, and Stanton did so to get closer to their hometowns.
Gorden, who is a native of Elk Grove and played college soccer at DePaul. She’s been with the Red Stars since 2016 and this past season played in every minute of every match, becoming the franchise’s first “Iron Woman.”
“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity the Chicago Red Stars have given me. When I was drafted by the club in 2016, they took a chance on a local Chicago kid and from there have helped me grow to the player I am today,” said Gorden in a statement released by the Red Stars. “To my teammates, I appreciate you all endlessly and thank you for being there through the ups and downs. Local 134 and the rest of the Chicago Red Stars fans, you mean the world to me and you’ll continue to be my day ones. Chicago forever and always.”
Ertz, who is a mainstay on the United States Women’s National Team, has been with the Red Stars since 2014 and aided the building of the franchise into one of the most successful in the league. She heavily aided runs to five-straight NWSL postseasons and the league final in 2019, but was limited to just one game in 2021 due to a knee injury.