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|Erin McLeod of the Chicago Red Stars is excited for the opening games of the NWSL this Saturday and Sunday.|
I just got back from a trip with the Canadian national team for friendly games against France and England, and I am psyched to join my new club, the Chicago Red Stars, for our first game Sunday.
The National Women’s Soccer League and the Red Stars have been on my mind since last fall, but there were still a lot of question marks about the new league. Ultimately we had to submit our top three team choices near the end of December, and then wait to find out where we’d been allocated. Chicago was No. 1 on my list, so it’s nice to know they wanted me as much as I wanted them!
I really like our coach Rory Dames’ philosophies on work ethic and the type of people he wanted on the team. He didn’t want any egos, and if you look at the roster, it’s full of good people with lots of character who care about connection to the team. That’s the kind of a team I want to be part of. And Chicago is an awesome city -- that doesn't hurt!
It’s great to be with Carmelina Moscato, my teammate from the Canadian national team, and a lot of the other players are people I’ve played against since we were 18 or 19 years old. But there are some new faces, too.
We flew down to Austin, Texas, for the preseason, and on top of busting our butts in practice, we did lots of cool activities to help us connect and build the team bond. We played get-to-know-you games, like sharing five things about ourselves around the circle. Everyone has made an effort to connect, and I have a lot of respect for all the players. It’s awesome to want to play with someone you just met a couple weeks ago. I definitely feel like I came to the right team.
Rory also talked about how important it is that we are Chicago Red Stars all the time. We’re always representing the team, putting in the time as needed to promote the league and get the word out, and putting in quality performances so that people want to come watch us play every week. That’s what’s going to make this new league a success.
The league is a great opportunity to showcase North American talent, and I love that it’s keeping the focus on Canadian, Mexican and American players. It’s so important to keep developing soccer talent here in our own backyard rather than shipping all our best players overseas.
I just moved into my new apartment earlier in the week. Carmelina and I are sharing a place in the Wicker Park area close to Chicago Avenue -- with lots of restaurants and shops. All of our walls were painted for us (lime green and turquoise, it’s pretty bright!) and the league administrators made sure we had plenty of furniture. Our owner, Arnim Whisler, also owns the apartment complex, so some of the other girls are in the same building. We’re right by the train, and it’s easy to get to the airport, which is important for us, of course.
I’m pumped, all in all. Since we were just flying back from the games in Europe, Carm and I did some recovery stuff when we first got back and went to practice to watch and support a bit before we jumped back in at full speed. Now we're ready to go, and everyone looks really sharp for Sunday’s game. It’s going to be a great season!