The Chicago Red Stars officially announced the team will compete in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) for the 2011 season. The club was among the seven founding franchises in WPS. In December 2010, the organization announced it would be taking a hiatus during the 2011 WPS season “to shore up its investment group”.
Several familiar faces will return to the club including Jackie Santacaterina, Elise Weber, Michele Weissenhofer, and former Saint Louis Athletica forward Amanda Cinalli. 2011 All-Big East Conference First Team midfielder Bri Rodriguez, former Chicago Red Eleven midfielder Kara Kabellis, and recent University of Illinois defender Julie Ewing are among the players set to fill out the preliminary squad. Eclipse Select Soccer Club’s Director of Coaching and Player Development Rory Dames will coach the team.
The 2011 WPSL season will run through June and July, and the Red Stars will play two home games on July 2 and July 10 in Lisle, Illinois. Fans are encouraged to visit http://www.ChicagoRedStars.com for more information.
The WPSL is set to have a momentous season in 2011. The Chicago Red Stars announcement comes on the heels of the developments regarding the league’s first ever pro teams the Bay Area Breeze and the Orange County Waves. , Brittany Klein, and Natalie Spilger will appear for the Bay Area Breeze this season. The league will also see the addition of a women’s team affiliated with MLS’ FC Dallas.
The Red Stars’ renaissance is also a positive sign for fans of the franchise and women’s soccer alike. Chicago opted to sit out the 2011 WPS season after failing to secure the appropriate investment (including a proposed partnership with Santos) this past offseason. The Red Stars had a unique ownership model in the landscape of WPS. The team’s ownership group was composed of a variety of stakeholders, rather than one or two wealthy benefactors. Former team President and C.E.O. Peter Wilt’s Pitch Invasion piece on the importance of community outreach and good customer service is a must-read.
Perhaps a stint in the WPSL will prepare the Red Stars for a return to WPS in 2012.