The Chicago Red Stars are exempt from the upcoming NWSL expansion draft, that much is for certain. But what the most recent league runner-up is left with might be more of a question.
In a pair of trades, the Red Stars sent U.S. women's national team star defender Julie Ertz and NWSL Defender of the Year finalist Sarah Gorden to Angel City FC and forward Katie Johnson, forward Makenzy Doniak and forward Kelsey Turnbow to San Diego Wave FC.
Separately, Chicago also sent midfielder Nikki Stanton to OL Reign.
Per the team's release, the Red Stars' deal with San Diego and Angel City provided them with roster protection in the upcoming Dec. 16 expansion draft, where participating teams are only allowed to protect one USWNT allocated player. Chicago had to part ways with Ertz but will now be able to keep Tierna Davidson, Casey Krueger, Alyssa Naeher and Mallory Pugh. Ertz, meanwhile, now joins U.S. star Christen Press in Los Angeles, with Angel City making a splash as it builds from scratch.
“Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden are two players that are so important for the defensive foundation we are building on the Angel City roster,” Angel City sporting director Eni Aluko said. “We know successful football teams need to have competitive defenses and we are delighted with the addition of two competitive defenders with many years of NWSL experience.”
Ertz, 29, has been a long-time face of the Red Stars, having spent the entirety of her NWSL career there. She joined the club in 2014 and made 95 appearances, 93 of which she started, with six goals and eight assists.
The team said that Gorden, a Chicago native, "sought the move for personal reasons." The 29-year-old has been with the Red Stars since 2016 and emerged in recent seasons as one of the league's top defenders.
The team said in its release that it "reluctantly agreed to trade two, long-time stalwarts," in making the trade.
It has been a couple of significant weeks for the franchise. In late November, less than 48 hours after losing to the Washington Spirt in the NWSL title match, Chicago coach Rory Dames resigned amid multiple allegations of emotional and verbal abuse. According to an investigation conducted by the Washington Post, Dames's behavior allegedly ranged from verbal abuse during team activities to off-the-field expectations that went beyond the boundaries of a normal player-coach relationship.
Rade Tanaskovic, the club's goalkeeper coach, is currently listed as the acting head coach on the team's website.
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