First in a series of 10 posts analyzing NWSL 2013 from my viewpoint.
To be honest I’m starting with the Red Stars because they never really got me excited about their team or season. I don’t know if it’s something they did or didn’t do, or the style of play..or the players. Not many of my favorite players made it onto the final roster, only Lori Chalupny, Alyssa Mautz, and later Sonja Fuss made it fun for me to watch.
Pre-season, Season Tickets, and Fan Engagement:
Pre-season was kind of exciting, lots of player announcements and pre-season games. A cagey trade and players lost to injury early on kept the buzz going into the start of the regular season.
Season Tickets were easy to buy on the website and service after the sale was okay. I purchased 2 $200 Club Level tickets. The only perk for me was a 10% discount in the online store. As a fan who was only supporting the league with this purchase and would not be attending games it would have been nice to have perks that appealed to me such as game programs, a team portrait or something along those lines. I don’t feel that would be too expensive or hard to include as an option for STH’s like me.
The club was very fan friendly with frequent updates on Twitter and Facebook and later on Pinterest and YouTube. Seldom do you get as much access and candor from a GM as was available from Alyse LaHue. Also, features like The Ella and Erin Show, Red Stars Cash Cab, and Red Stars Report kept me entertained and informed..really all any fan wants..besides good soccer.
Web Site and Web Stream:
Chicago Red Stars web site is easy to navigate and the home page has everything you need right at your fingertips. It’s not visually appealing to me, but it does incorporated the team colors, the stars, and the skyline of Chicago, so I guess it fills the bill. I’d like to see an explanation of the team logo somewhere on the site, maybe under History. The team store is pathetic, nothing nicer I can say. The link to the NWSL store doesn’t reveal much better, according to what’s shown CRS has nothing more available than jerseys and t-shirts.
I was okay with the Red Stars web stream of their home games. The quality of the stream was consistent throughout the season, not the best quality, but consistency counts. Camera work often had trouble tracking play, so that’s something they could definitely improve upon next season. They are the only team to stream in both English and Spanish, something the rest of the league should seriously consider. On-air talent, Rob Coons and Ben Solomon, (two of many) were well informed about the Red Stars and adequately informed about the opponents, a little over excited when CRS got close to the goal, but not enough to mute.
Kits and Venue:
I have to say that CRS came up with one of the more attractive kits this inaugural season. When all the teams looked so similar, CRS stood out with their vertical stripe and red stars. I also was pleased to see that they had home, away, and a third jersey. Choosing to go with a baby blue home jersey really made them stand out from the usual navy blue and red the rest of the teams opted for, major kudos from me.
I did not attend any games at Benedictine University, their home venue, so my observations are based solely on streams. It’s no secret that multi-sport lined fields are a nightmare on screen, although I have to say they are not nearly as distracting in person (I attended several FC Kansas City games with football lines). Benedictine takes multi-sport to a new level though with 4 different sports represented. I’d like to see a field that limits the number of lines to less than 2.
Chicago Red Stars say they have that blue-collar work ethic type of team and for the most part I get that vibe from them. I appreciate that they play right up until the final whistle, but last second, last gasp goals didn’t do it for me. I was impressed by how well they did when the USWNT allocations didn’t work out for them and when injuries started to mount. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to grab me and make me a fan.
I love the fact that the staff, all the way up to GM, are accessible, friendly and forthcoming. At the beginning of the season CRS staff were some of the only people relaying information to the fans.
Like most teams, they still have many things to improve. Some of the things I’d like to see from CRS specifically are:
- Perks geared to STH that will not be attending games.
- A better quality web stream, better camera operator(s).
- A better online store with larger selection and some creativity.
- A venue that is not a strain for the players to play on and the fans to watch. Limit the number of non-soccer lines.
Thank you to the entire CRS organization for taking a chance on another women’s pro soccer league. I look forward to supporting the team during another successful season in 2014.