Red Stars midfielder Sarah Woldmoe to retire after eight years in NWSL

Woldmoe is the latest player to depart from the team after Vanessa DiBernardo, Danielle Colaprico, Morgan Gautrat and Rachel Hill left in free agency.

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Red Stars midfielder Sarah Woldmoe announced her retirement from the NWSL.

Red Stars midfielder Sarah Woldmoe announced her retirement from the NWSL.

Jeff Dean/AP

The majority of Red Stars midfielder Sarah Woldmoe’s memories involve soccer.

It’s easy to understand why, given that she has played since she was 3 years old after a push from her father, who also played the game. For as far back as she can remember, her life has been centered around soccer — until now.

After eight years and more than 10,000 minutes played in the National Women’s Soccer League, Woldmoe is retiring, she told the Sun-Times on Tuesday.

‘‘It’s a very hard decision,’’ Woldmoe said. ‘‘But for me, the decision was: Do I want to be all-in, 100%, with my son and my husband? That’s the route I went with instead of being split [between soccer and family]. It’s the right time.’’

Woldmoe, 30, grew up 162 miles east of Chicago in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before attending UCLA in 2011-14. She helped lead the Bruins to an NCAA championship in 2013. In 2014, she was drafted with the second overall pick by Sky Blue FC. (The team rebranded itself NJ/NY Gotham FC in 2021.)

Woldmoe said part of her always knew she would end up playing for the Red Stars. She arrived in Chicago via trade before the 2021 season, reuniting her with Julie Ertz, Kealia Watt, Morgan Gautrat and Vanessa DiBernardo, with whom she won an Under-20 Women’s World Cup title in 2012.

‘‘It was an even better connection than we had before because of maturity and experiencing a lot,’’ Woldmoe said. ‘‘It was great to have it come full circle with some of those players.’’

Woldmoe played in 28 matches for the Red Stars between the Challenge Cup, regular season and postseason in 2021, including 23 starts. She missed the 2022 season on maternity leave and welcomed her son, Beau, on Aug. 3. She hopes to return to the game as a coach, but she plans to center her life around her family for now.

Woldmoe became the latest player to leave the Red Stars after DiBernardo, Danielle Colaprico, Gautrat and Rachel Hill left in free agency. Colaprico and Hill signed with the San Diego Wave, and DiBernardo and Gautrat are expected to announce their new teams by the end of the week.

Their exits leave the Red Stars with a 17-player roster right now. Watt is the only remaining free agent who has yet to decide whether she will re-sign with the Red Stars for the upcoming season.

Woldmoe said her decision to retire was not affected by the reports of abuse across the NWSL, including in the Red Stars’ organization. Nearly a year after allegations of abuse against former coach Rory Dames were reported by the Washington Post, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates released an explosive report that exposed longtime owner Arnim Whisler’s knowledge and dismissal of it.

A joint investigation by the NWSL and the players’ union is ongoing, with some league sources under the impression the findings will be released before the end of the year.

Whisler officially began the process of selling his stake in the Red Stars last week, saying in a statement he has engaged New York investment bank Inner Circle Sports to facilitate a deal. His statement did not detail plans for the team’s future, but there is a hope it will remain in Chicago.

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