The Chicago Red Stars hit the reset button in NWSL entry draft.
Late deals brought Washington Spirit Center Back Sam Staab to the club, and saw Arin Wright off to Louisville.
Chicago drafted two-time NCAA champion LeiLanni Nesbeth, of Florida State University in the first round. They started the second round choosing All-ACC forward and midfielder Jameese Joseph from NC State. The third round brought Big-12 Defender of the year, Hannah Anderson of Texas Tech, and SEC midfielder of the year, Bea Franklin of the University of Arkansas. Chicago’s final pick was All Big Ten defender, Celia Gaynor.
These draft picks bring much-needed depth to Chicago’s midfield and defensive line.
After the draft, the Free Agency frenzy continued, sending 2023 standout Ella Stevens to Gotham.
Chicago made their own mark on free agency by signing Mallory Swanson to the most lucrative contract in the NWSL, estimated at $400,000 a year, for four years. From there, the signings dam burst-- midfield veteran Shea Groom, Bayern Munich two-way threat, Maximiliane Rall, NWSL Champion defender Natalie Kuikka, and Chicagoland native, Camryn Biegalski.
After many weeks of waiting, the Chicago Red Stars fans have a group of players reporting to preseason who are excited to make a difference. “I’m so excited to join the Red Stars and represent the city of Chicago,” said Groom. “I’m a Midwest girl at heart and I know this club is destined to do great things.” Kuikka echoed the sentiment. “What drew me to Chicago is their focus on rebuilding trust with the fans and the culture across the organization. Laura Rickett’s passion and vision for the club and her commitment to women’s soccer is inspiring, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this new era.”
The rookie class is ready to do their part to make the rebuild work. In the rookie introductory press conference, LaiLanni Nesbeth spoke about the passion of Chicago fans, and how the team wanted to “bring that fire back in the city when it comes to women’s football.”
Preseason officially began this week, and will continue into February with closed-door preseason matches against Louisville, and North Carolina.