CHICAGO, IL. (Dec. 2, 2021)The Chicago Red Stars announced a number of roster moves ahead of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) expansion draft. The moves prioritize and honor the wishes of select players, while also protecting the balance of the Red Stars' 2021 championship game roster from both the San Diego Wave and Angel City FC in the upcoming NWSL Expansion Draft December 16.
The trade with the San Diego Wave allows Katie Johnson and Makenzy Doniak to return home to Southern California, per their wishes. In addition to Johnson and Doniak, the Wave also will receive 2021 Red Stars draft pick Kelsey Turnbow. In exchange, the Red Stars received roster protection from San Diego in the expansion draft plus allocation money.
"I would like to thank the Chicago Red Stars organization, my incredible teammates, Local 134 and the fans for a memorable three years. Without them I wouldn't have been able to experience three finals," said Johnson. "The city itself will always hold a special place in my heart. I am thrilled to be joining San Diego Wave! I will be home and closer to family and friends. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to play professional games in front of family."
"Thank you so much to Chicago. I've truly enjoyed my time playing for such an incredible city," said Doniak. "I'm looking forward to playing close to home again and being a part of this new San Diego team."
To receive expansion draft protection from Angel City, the Red Stars reluctantly agreed to trade two, long-time stalwarts of the club, Sarah Gorden and Julie Ertz, plus an international spot.
While Chicagoan and fan favorite Sarah Gorden sought the move for personal reasons, she was quick to say, "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. 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."
Julie Ertz is one of the top players in the world and has spent her entire career with the Red Stars, where she epitomized Chicago grit and determination. The club wishes her well and looks forward to seeing her on the pitch in the future.
In addition, and to accommodate a player request, the Red Stars agreed to trade Nicole Stanton to OL Reign FC to play in her home state of Washington in exchange for a third round pick in the upcoming NWSL draft. Stanton had a farewell message for her adopted hometown saying, "Chicago! The city that stole my heart. Thank you for an incredible three seasons. I have grown as a person and player here. I have made friends for life. Thank you to my teammates for being the best out there. Love you all. To the fans- oh man. Going to miss you! You guys always showed up big. Appreciate you. Thank you, Chicago. See you soon."
In a statement from the club, "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."