Chicago Red Stars / National Women's Soccer League

Dames adds depth across the board for Red Stars

The Chicago Red Stars will be one of the hardest teams hit during the build up to this summer’s Women’s World Cup with the possibility of losing up to nine players.

Head coach Rory Dames added depth across the board with his six picks during last week’s draft. Versatility was a key factor for the Red Stars as four players declared at multiple positions

Dames picked up Kentucky standout Arin Gilliland with the eighth overall pick. A four-year standout at Kentucky, Gilliland spent time on the Wildcats’ backline as well as up top. In 86 matches in UK blue and white, the Lexington, Kentucky native tallied 30 goals and added 25 assists. She will be able to play in the back for the Red Stars and can also shift up top, which will be particularly helpful for Dames’ side when the World Cup rolls around.

The Red Stars had drafted Boston College forward Stephanie McCaffrey with the fifth pick but dealt her rights to the Boston Breakers in exchange for the No. 9 and No. 11 picks.

Those picks allowed Dames to select Virginia midfielder Danielle Colaprico and Santa Clara’s Sofia Huerta.

Colaprico can slide anywhere in the midfield and has played in the back and up top at Virginia. She is another player that has the potential to log significant minutes in Chicago as a result of her versatility.

Huerta adds another attacker to a Red Stars squad that will likely lose Christen Press, Adrianna Leon and Melissa Tancredi for much of the first half of the season. She notched 47 goals and added 19 assists in 84 matches for the Santa Clara Broncos.

She will also see a familiar face in Chicago.

Huerta spent three years sharing the pitch at Santa Clara with Red Stars midfielder/defender Julie Johnston. The two have played together since they were 14 and it was something that Huerta was ecstatic about upon being selected.

““When I first found out the Red Stars picked me, I was so excited because I’ve heard a lot of good things about the club from Julie and (former Chicago and U.S. star) Leslie Osborne, who was one of my coaches at Santa Clara,” Huerta said. “I have such a good feeling in my heart and think Chicago is the place to be for me, especially because Julie is there. I’ve played with her since I was 14 and we’ve spent so much time together. She’s always been a really good leader and someone I play well with.”

Dames was pleased with how the draft turned out.

“There were four players that we initially identified that we thought could definitely help us,” Dames said. “We wanted to try and figure out how to get three of them. We were able to do that. Right off the bat, when we got the number nine and eleven [picks], that was huge for us. Arin [Gilliland], Danielle [Colaprico] and Sofia [Huerta] were three of the four that we thought could help us, so we’re extremely happy with those selections.”

In the latter stages of the draft, the Red Stars found themselves with two third round picks where the club was able to add depth on both sides of the ball in Wisconsin forward Cara Walls (23rd overall) and Washington State midfielder/defender Nicole Setterlund (27th overall).

Local product Rachel Tejada was the club’s final pick in the fourth round with the 32nd overall pick. She and Walls will provide additional attacking power upon the departure of the Red Stars internationals leaving for the World Cup.

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