Red Stars manager Rory Dames resigns after 11 years with the club


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – AUGUST 21: Head coach Rory Dames of Chicago Red Stars calls to players against Paris Saint-Germain during The Women’s Cup Third Place match at Lynn Family Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – When the club has been in the National Women’s Soccer League, he’s been the man to lead them onto the pitch.

But just before midnight on Sunday, it was announced that the Chicago Red Stars’ longtime manager would be leaving his position. On Monday afternoon, it became more apparent why he made this move.

Rory Dames has resigned his position with the team after 11 years, which includes all nine seasons the Red Stars have been in the NWSL. He began his coaching tenure with the club when they were in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.

Per a news release from the team, Dames informed team management about his decision after their loss to the Washington Spirit in the NWSL Championship Game on Saturday in Louisville.

On Monday afternoon, the Washington Post released an investigative story on Dames which revealed accusations of verbal and emotional abuse through the years, citing the upcoming report as the reason for his resignation.

In Molly Hensley-Clancy’s investigation, it was revealed that former players filed complaints about Dames to the US Soccer Federation, which oversaw the NWSL at that time. Included in those who made accusations was former Red Stars player and US Women’s National Team member Christen Press, whose complaint is mentioned in the article.

On Monday night, Natalie Bauer Luce of the public relations firm Culloton +Bauer Luce released this statement on the report on behalf of the club:

“We stand with the players who are fiercely advocating for change, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure a safe environment for the League’s players, staff, volunteers and fans. 

“In conjunction with our players, the Chicago Red Stars several weeks ago initiated an independent review of player health and safety and the team’s culture and work environment. We intend to implement any recommendations in that review that will strengthen our ability to empower our players, to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, and to foster an environment of continual growth.”

The National Women’s Soccer League Players Association released the statement above following the Washington Post report as Dames becomes the fifth NWSL coach in 2021 to be accused of misconduct and resign. This is another part of a year of reckoning for the league that started with a report from The Athletic on sexual coercion allegations against North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley.

It led to the pause of games in October along with the resignation of league commissioner Lisa Baird and dismissal of league counsel Lisa Levine.

The initial news release made no mention of the Washington Post report, with the statement from Dames only referencing his desire to focus on family.

“For 11 years, I have dedicated myself to help build the Chicago Red Stars into one of the top international clubs. Effective today, I’m refocusing my attention to my family and future endeavors, and I am resigning as coach of the Chicago Red Stars,” said Dames in a statement released by the club. “I’d like to thank the Chicago Red Stars organization, the fans and the players who I have had the opportunity to work with in their professional soccer careers.

“I look forward to watching the Chicago Red Stars and the NWSL continue to grow and evolve while supporting their players.”

Dames helped the club to playoff appearances in six-straight seasons and appearances in the regular season NWSL Championship in 2019 and 2021. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, he guided the Red Stars to the NWSL Challenge Cup final where they lost to the Houston Dash.

Assistant coaches will collectively take on the duties for Dames until a full-time replacement is found.

“Under Rory’s leadership we have been a remarkably consistent and excellent club on the field. We continually evaluate our team and front office environment, and given the dynamic change underway in the league, it is time to begin the next chapter of the Red Stars with a search for new leadership of the team,” said the club in a statement.

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