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Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames after NWSL draft: ‘We had a good 48 hours’

Chicago Red Stars draft picks Kayla Sharples (left) and Hannah Davison. (Daniel Bartel/ISI)

CHICAGO — Rory Dames has a history of being busy on draft day, and he didn’t disappoint this year either.

Dames traded away two first-round picks Wednesday and made another trade on draft day. That still wasn’t the highlight of the day for the Red Stars, who played host Thursday at McCormick Place. Taking Stanford and national team defender Tierna Davidson No. 1 overall claimed the spotlight.

Dames called Davidson a player to build a franchise around, but was also happy with other moves the team made around the draft. The Red Stars traded the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft and the team’s highest second-round pick in next year’s draft to Sky Blue FC for forward Katie Johnson. The 24-year-old had four goals and two assists in each of her two seasons in the league. She is also a Mexican international.

The Red Stars also traded the seventh overall pick to Washington for the 20th pick and a first-round pick in the 2020 draft.

“I think we had a pretty good idea what we wanted to do with six and seven,” Dames said. “We knew we needed to get somebody else that had proven they could score goals in the league. So Katie was a huge get for us there and then we knew we wanted another first round pick next year so being able to work the deal with Washington was important.”

The Red Stars added Maria Sanchez from Santa Clara at No. 15 overall. Dames talked up her ability to contribute as a wide player.

“The big thing with her was just the left foot,” Dames said. “She can go into the wide space and whip in a ball from the left side.”

Sanchez is another Mexican national team player. Mexico didn’t qualify for the 2019 World Cup, but she was with the team in qualifying.

“She has international experience,” Dames said. “You can’t underestimate that enough. I know Mexico had a disappointing qualifying, but she still went through that tournament, played at that level, went up against those teams. There’s something to be said for a player coming out of college and the highest level they’ve been at is college as opposed to somebody who’s played internationally and represented their country.”

The Red Stars added West Virginia right back Bianca St. Georges at pick No. 20. Then they traded down, sending the 24th pick to Portland for picks 31 and 35.

Chicago took three local products with the four remaining picks: Northwestern defender Kayla Sharples (No. 26), Minnesota forward April Bockin (No. 31), Northwestern defender Hannah Davison (No. 33) and Loyola forward Jenna Szczesny (No. 35).

“I feel that what we set out to do with the draft this year and what we felt we need to address with our team and some things we felt we needed to do for the long-term future of the club, I think we had a good 48 hours,” Dames said.

Sharples and Davison both played for Dames when he coached local club team Eclipse SC.

“When I was on Eclipse we actually practiced at the Oak Brook polo fields [where the Red Stars practice] so we would see some of the Chicago Red Stars players,” Sharples said. “That was always the dream, to see them playing in the practice fields. I want to be that one day. So it’s surreal that it is happening now.”

See a full list of draft picks here.

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