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Chicago Red Stars begin NWSL preseason missing several players on national team duty

Chicago players celebate after a goal during the Chicago Red Stars at Orlando Pride NWSL soccer game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, August 25, 2018. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

The Chicago Red Stars are the only team in the National Women’s Soccer League’s young history to make four consecutive playoff appearances. That accomplishment comes with the distinction that the Red Stars have lost in the semifinal round all four of those years.

The Red Stars’ inability to get past the semifinal round is not a new storyline. It will continue to be one until the team, which boasts a talented roster with plenty of national team players, either breaks through and reaches a final or fails to make the playoffs. The players reported to SeatGeek Stadium on Monday for the start of preseason.

Another familiar storyline is that several players are with national teams as the preseason begins. Four players are playing for the U.S. national team in the SheBelieves Cup. The tournament concludes Tuesday in Tampa, Fla.

That will be a theme throughout 2019 with the World Cup taking place this summer. Julie Ertz and Alyssa Naeher appear to be locks on the World Cup roster, if healthy. Casey Short and rookie Tierna Davidson are also currently with the U.S. Danielle Colaprico was called in, but later replaced on the roster due to injury. Morgan Brian will be looking to get back into the national team after starting for much of the 2015 title run.

Sam Kerr, who has led the NWSL in scoring each of the past two years, is expected to star for Australia. Rosie White, who has already played in two World Cups with New Zealand, won’t join the Red Stars until after the World Cup.

That means coach Rory Dames will have his work cut out for him this summer. That should provide opportunities to the five draft picks (other than Davidson) on the Red Stars’ preseason roster.

Stephanie McCaffrey will sit out the 2019 season while dealing with a neurological illness.

The Red Stars have a closed scrimmage against the University of Missouri on March 9. After that, Chicago will travel to Portland in late March. They will play matches against the Thorns, the Seattle Reign and the U.S. under-23 team. The season opener is April 13 at the defending champion North Carolina Courage.

Red Stars preseason roster

(NRI = non-roster invitee)

GOALKEEPERS (4): Emily Boyd, Megan Hinz (NRI), Alison Jahansouz (NRI), Alyssa Naeher

DEFENDERS (13): Tierna Davidson, Hannah Davison, Brooke Elby, Chandra Eigenberger (NRI), Zoey Goralski (NRI), Sarah Gorden, Christina Murillo, Katie Naughton, Kayla Sharples, Casey Short, Bianca St Georges, Chelsea Surpris (NRI), Arin Wright

MIDFIELDERS (10): Morgan Brian, Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Julie Ertz, Kelly Fitzgerald (NRI), Alyssa Mautz, Nikki Stanton, Michele Vasconcelos, Jill Vetere (NRI), Erin Yenney

FORWARDS (6):  April Bockin, Katie Johnson, Sam Kerr, Maria Sanchez, Jenna Szczesny, Yuki Nagasato

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