Hello, Good-Bye Chicago Red Stars: Three Personnel Moves This Weekend

John HowellAnalyst IAugust 7, 2010

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- (August 7, 2010) Disregard for a moment that St. Louis Athletica was disbanded after the start of the season and the Chicago Red Stars, like all WPS (Women's Professional Soccer) teams, made some unexpected free-agent acquisitions. As if that wasn't disruptive enough to team chemistry, whatever good may have come from it, the Red Stars have been signing and cutting players as this season as frequently as hockey teams change lines.

The moves to open roster slots for two St. Louis players seemed to make sense. But since then, we wonder.

For instance, midfielder Brittany Klein, a member of last season's All-Star team and a real hustler/team player if there ever was one, was sent packing to make room for Anita Asante. That worked out so well that Asante herself was traded earlier this week after a few lackluster performances.

Asante was traded to Washington to make room for Nigerian international, Faith Ikidi.

Ikidi, a "Discovery Selection" in the 2010 draft, is under contract with Damallsvenskan organization Linkoping FC in Sweden. The Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi says this is a long-term decision geared toward the Red Stars' 2011 season plans. The 23-year-old defender will bring some versatility to the Red Stars in the future, especially with her experience playing both on the defense and at forward.

"We're looking for her as a long-term option who can play at center back or on the outside," Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said. "That's an area where we are too thin right now, and adding Ikidi would build some depth there."

Washington selected Ikidi in the second round (10th overall) of the 2010 WPS Dispersal Draft following the dissolution of the Los Angeles Sol. She has played for Nigeria's national team, participating in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and the 2007 FIFA World Cup.

"In the immediate future, Kate Markgraf and Whitney Engen have formed a good partnership since Whitney moved into the middle," Namazi said of his Red Stars defense. "Anita's opportunities were limited, but she had every option to stay here because we valued her as a player. Washington asked about her and we facilitated the move. We wish Anita the best in her future endeavors."

While there are no tears shed for Asante, and Ikidi may be just what Chicago will need next year, one has to ask whatever happened to THIS YEAR? It seems the Red Stars would still be better off with Brittany Klein, at least for this season, rather than Asante or the fruit of the Asante transaction.

But wait, there's more! It was announced late yesterday that one of only three Red Stars who have scored multiple goals this season (and only four have scored even a single goal), Swedish international, Kosovare Asllani, was released by "mutual agreement."

Despite missing several matches due to injury or international obligations, and normally coming off the bench when she did play. Asllani managed to score two goals this season, behind only Ella Masar and Cristiane in total goals scored thus far. Unlike Asllani, the other two have started or played heavy minutes in nearly every match this season. 

The pretext was that Asllani wanted to be ready to give a "full fall" to the Swedish national team, and Chicago was willing to grant her wish.

"The ability to play a full fall season is the right step for me to best prepare for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers," Asllani said. "That being said, WPS is a great league and I have had a good experience with the Chicago Red Stars. I wish the club and my teammates the best of luck in their quest to clinch a playoff spot."

Whether or not it was Asllani who initiated the move (and given her passion for the team, it seems unlikely), it seems that if you're a club that is still trying to make the playoffs, you don't let one of your best offensive weapons go home early, even if she says, "Pretty please!"

Now-- and this may be the only good news here, if it is good news-- the Red Stars think they may have solved part of their offensive problem by replacing Asllani on the roster with the MVP of last week's W-League Championships.

Forward, Veronica Boquete (pictured above) led the Buffalo Flash, the only professional club in the W-League of the USL (United Soccer League) to the league championship last weekend against the Vancouver White Caps 3-1. Boquette scored two of Buffalo's three goals, including the game winner.   

"We saw her in the W-League final and we felt she's the type of player that can help us in our quest to be more attack-minded, create more opportunities and score more goals," Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said. "She has a good soccer IQ and good intelligence in the final third. It's apparent that she's got some ability."

In only five regular-season matches this year, Boquete led the W-League with seven assists and ranked sixth in the league in points (17). She was named to the 2010 W-League All-Central Conference Team.

Boquete, a Spanish international, is available to play in the Red Stars' match against FC Gold Pride at 9 p.m. Saturday in Hayward, Calif. She will wear No. 19.

Of course the terms and compensation offered to the newly signed is confidential, per WPS policy.

The Red Stars enter the weekend in a fourth-place tie with the Washington Freedom as they continue their push for a postseason berth. The Red Stars (5-8-5, 20 points) are wrapping up their three-game road trip with first-place Bay Area (12-3-2, 38 points). Chicago then returns home to host the Philadelphia Independence at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Toyota Park.


Veronica Boquete - #19
Height: 5-3
Born: 9/4/1987
Hometown: Santiago, Spain
Last Club: Buffalo Flash (USL W-League)
Country: Spain
How acquired: Signed by Red Stars in August 2010.
WPS: Has not played in a WPS match.
International: Played for Spain in the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. ... Currently plays for Spain's national team.
Club: Won the 2010 USL W-League championship with the Buffalo Flash, scoring two goals in the title game and earning W-League Championship Game MVP honors. She led the W-League with seven assists in only five regular-season matches. ... Previously played for RCD Espanyol.

Pronunciation: Bo-KET-ee

Faith Ikidi
Height: 5-8
Born: 2/28/1987
Last Club: Rights previously owned by Washington Freedom / Currently playing for Linkoping FC
Country: Nigeria
How acquired: Trade with Washington Freedom in August 2010.
WPS: Has not played in a WPS match.
International: Has been with the Nigerian national team since 2003. She participated in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and the 2007 FIFA World Cup.

Pronunciation: feyth i-KEE-dee