CHICAGO RED STARS SIGN SWEDEN’S FRIDA ÖSTBERG & CAROLINE JÖNSSON
The Chicago Red Stars have secured the services of Sweden’s Frida Östberg & Caroline Jönsson for the 2009 WPS season, General Manager Marcia McDermott announced today. With a combined 15 years and 158 caps on the international stage, the veteran Swedes will bring a wealth of experience and a championship pedigree to the Chicago Red Stars.
Östberg, 31, has been a fixture in the midfield of the Swedish National Team since 2001, earning 78 caps over that time. She has enjoyed enormous success at the club level in Sweden, where she has helped perennial powerhouse Umea IK to win five league championships, three cup titles, and two UEFA Women’s Cup championships in 2003 and 2004. In 2008, Östberg captained Umea IK to its seventh overall league title, while putting the club through to the upcoming UEFA Women’s Cup semifinal, and earning this year’s most prestigious award, the Diamond Ball, honoring Sweden’s Player of the Year.
“Frida epitomizes everything you would want in a top class professional,” said head coach Emma Hayes. “Her abilities on and off the field will help us develop a professional culture. She is one of the toughest players out there and has a mean streak on the field that our fans will grow to love. She’s a born winner.”
Red Stars Assistant Coach Denise Reddy, who routinely squared off against Östberg during her 11-year playing career in the Swedish league, echoed Hayes’ assessment. “Frida is the toughest player I’ve ever come up against. She possesses a dominant presence in the midfield, one most players would like to avoid.”
Östberg, who recently retired from the Swedish National Team, is looking forward to writing the next chapter of her prolific career in Chicago.
“It feels great to be a member of Chicago Red Stars under the wings of Emma and Denise,” said Östberg. “ I expect a tough league with a lot of challenges and really good football. When I consider our team, I think that it is just that, a team! We're balanced; we have individuals that can make the difference both in the offense as well as in the defense. I'm really excited and looking forward to being a part of building this team.”
Goalkeeper Caroline Jönsson made her national team debut in 1999 and steered Sweden to a silver medal in the 2003 Women’s World Cup and has played in two Olympics in 2000 and 2004. In addition, Jönsson has played in over 200 matches for legendary Swedish club Malmo FF, and was recognized as the Sweden’s Goalkeeper of the Year in both 2003 and 2006.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to play for Chicago Red Stars,” said Jönsson. “In my career, I have always followed my heart, this is not an exception. If I hadn’t felt a true love for the game from the coaches or the organization, it wouldn´t have been a possibility for me to play for the Chicago Red Stars.”
Red Stars Head Coach Emma Hayes selected Jönsson with the 26th overall pick in the fourth round of the WPS International last September. She was the first and only goalkeeper selected.
“The first player we wanted in this team was a world class goalkeeper, and now we have one of the best,” explained Hayes. “She will organize, lead, and, by her example, set the tone for every player on the roster.”
Jönsson is enthusiastic about her new American club and the fledgling league.
“In Chicago, I don´t just sense a passion for the game,” she said, “but I also perceive a well put together organization with great competent people in every spot, including on the soccer team. I am even looking forward to the five weeks of preseason and that tells me that this is something special. I am glad to be a part of a new era; I think this time around the league is here to stay and I´m proud to be asked to be a part of that new beginning.”
With the addition of Östberg and Jönsson, the Chicago Red Stars have now filled four of their allotted five international roster spots. The Red Stars hold the WPS playing rights to Brazilian striker Cristiane, who last month finished third in the 2008 FIFA Player of the Year voting.
The Red Stars kick off the 2009 WPS season on April 5th on the road against St. Louis Athletica at Ralph Korte Stadium on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. Following a second road game against the Washington Freedom on April 11th, the Red Stars will play their home-opener at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois on Sunday April 19th against Sky Blue. Season tickets, starting at only $120 for 10 regular season games plus two bonus games, are on sale now. Call (866) WPS-2009 or log on to www.chicagoredstars.com to reserve your seats.