Talent is everywhere on 2021 Red Stars

The depth on the Red Stars’ roster should make for fierce competition before and during the season.

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Red Stars starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher said she never has been part of a club roster with this kind of depth. 

Red Stars starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher said she never has been part of a club roster with this kind of depth.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Awinter storm that piled more than a foot of snow on top of an already-deep layer of the cold, wet stuff in some areas was no match for the Red Stars’ preseason training schedule.

While many Chicagoans woke up Tuesday to buried cars, unplowed alleys and impassable sidewalks and decided, ‘‘No, not today,’’ the Red Stars were at their training facility in Bridgeview bright and early.

Defender Sarah Gorden took to Instagram and shared a visual of what some were calling ‘‘Snowmageddon’’ with a caption that read: ‘‘And it’s not even a snow day!’’

There’s no time for days off when you’re in pursuit of a seventh consecutive playoff appearance and a third appearance in a row in the NWSL or Challenge Cup title game.

With a roster this deep, anything less than a championship-contending season — whether for the Challenge Cup, the regular season or both — would be a failure.

Starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher said she never has been part of a roster with this kind of depth.

It’s an unsurprising statement, considering the Red Stars have 33 players on their preseason roster, including seven non-roster invitees. There’s also forward Alissa Gorzak, who was one of their draft picks last month.

Of the seven non-roster invitees, four suited up for the Red Stars in the Challenge Cup and the Fall Series: defender Camryn Biegalski, midfielders Aerial Chavarin and Cassie Rohan and forward Dani Rhodes. It’s not likely they’ll make the final roster, but they would add value as supplemental players.

The Red Stars have between now and April 2 to cut their roster to 28 (24 roster spots and four supplemental players). But securing a place as one of the 24 rostered players obviously doesn’t guarantee a place among the starting 11.

‘‘I think [the depth] is going to be great in terms of keeping training competitive,’’ Naeher said. ‘‘It’s going to make it hard for players to get on the field, which I think is a good thing. The extra intensity and competitiveness are going to keep driving all of us to keep improving and getting better.’’

A look at the Red Stars’ starting 11 in their Fall Series finale — Kealia Watt, Sarah Luebbert and Savannah McCaskill in the attack, Vanessa DiBernardo, Danielle Colaprico and Morgan Gautrat in the midfield, Casey Krueger, Tierna Davidson, Gorden and Bianca St. Georges on the back line and Naeher in net — shows there is a hole left by the departure of McCaskill.

It’s also safe to assume Luebbert won’t be a starter with a fully healthy roster. St. Georges’ status is questionable right now after she announced on Instagram that she tore her meniscus during training camp with the Canadian national team.

That leaves two holes to fill in the attack, one of which likely will go to big-time offseason addition Mal Pugh. Rachel Hill, who started six of the seven games she played in the 2020 Challenge Cup, will be looking to reprise that role this season.

This preliminary roster breakdown leaves out Julie Ertz, whom coach Rory Dames plans to use in the midfield and undoubtedly will be among the starting 11. If St. Georges isn’t ready at the start of the season, we could see Sarah Woldmoe in a starting role in the midfield and Ertz return to the backline.

Of course, this is only the preseason outlook. There are plenty of practices and scrimmages to be held before the Red Stars open the season April 9. But this shows the depth will create an intense level of competition.

Considering the time the Red Stars’ players on the U.S. women’s national team will miss for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, depth is a good thing to have.

‘‘The dynamics of a true, real team will come into play more than they did last year,’’ Watt said. ‘‘It’s a long season. There are so many games and so many things happen. You really can’t just rely on having the best players. You have to have more than that.’’

The Red Stars certainly will this season.

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