The Red Stars are rising

A fun team, an expanded ownership group and a post-pandemic world could mean good things for Chicago women's soccer team.

The Red Stars are rising

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Monday's results
Nuggets 118, Bulls 112
Sox 4, Angels 4  (F/5)
Cubs 1, Padres 0 (F/7)

Tonight's schedule
Illinois at Michigan (6, ESPN)
Marquette at DePaul (8, FS1)
Royals at Cubs (2, Marquee)
Rangers at Sox (2, NBCSCH)

Red Stars rising

Good morning, frents!

Monday was a busy day in Chicago sports with almost every team working their way into the conversation at some point.

And yet the biggest headline might have been the first. The Red Stars announced an expanded ownership group with a great video that had me so ready for the return of summer and fans in the stands that I was ready to run through a wall.

It also made me think that both of Chicago's women's teams might be better positioned than any other to capitalize on a post-pandemic world.

We've already talked about the Sky and how the addition of Candace Parker to an already accomplished core puts the team in contention for the first WNBA title in franchise history.

The Red Stars are in a similar boat. They're coming off a NWSL finals appearance in 2019 and a runnerup finish in 2020's Challenge Cup. Though they had to withstand league MVP Sam Kerr signing with Chelsea after the 2019 season, they still have a solid stable of both productive and marketable players including Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Mallory Pugh and Casey Krueger.

Plus, it just seems like the demand is so pent up. The NWSL wasn't able to capitalize fully on the 2019 World Cup win before the pandemic struck. The USWNT's win in the recent SheBelieves Cup should only boost interest, too.

Combine that with a socially-conscious roster of players looking to make a positive impact on their communities and it's not hard to imagine stir-crazy fans packing Toyota Park once they're able. (The Red Stars' season, which starts in mid-May, will likely open with partial attendance.)

The NWSL isn't without its issues. The Tribune's Jeremy Mikula has a good piece on what the league is facing after the pandemic wreaked havoc on its finances. Player housing and salaries need more attention to stop talent attrition to Europe.

But that's also part of why the NWSL is opting toward expanded ownership groups throughout the league. The Red Stars' sizable group includes ESPN's Sarah Spain, hockey Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield, former Bears lineman Israel Idonijie, music executive Colleen Mares and Marie Tillman.

Getting that buy-in should only help to raise the team's profile in town.

Bulls steamrolled by Nikola Jokic

Arturas Karnisovas may have wanted a win over his former team, but his former big guy had different plans. Jokic turned in a 39-point, 14-rebound effort at the UC as Denver held off a late Bulls charge to win 118-112. Seventeen of Jokic's points came in the fourth quarter after the Bulls erased a 15-point deficit.

  • The loss dropped the Bulls to 15-18 and out of the final playoff spot in the East. They'll head to New Orleans to play the Pelicans on Wednesday night.

Better luck next time, Pat.

Bears scratch Skrine, welcome Herman

The Bears made one of their anticipated offseason cuts, releasing cornerback Buster Skrine, a move that will save them $2.7 million of cap space. Meanwhile, they added former Texas coach Tom Herman to the offensive coaching staff. Guess he wants something to do while he's still cashing around $15 million in checks from the Longhorns?

Top 5 matchup: Illinois vs. Michigan

We still don't know if the No. 4 Illini will have Ayo Dosunmu for tonight's game against No. 2 Michigan. But we do know it'll go a long way to deciding if Illinois gets a No. 1 seed when the committee meets a week from Sunday. At 13-1, Michigan will clinch the Big Ten regular season by virtue of winning percentage with one more win over their final three games — a fact that apparently doesn't sit well with Brad Underwood. The Illini are 14-4 in conference with two more games left.

Spring Training

Cubs 1, Padres 0

This one didn't end up getting televised and doesn't look like we missed much. Kyle Hendricks pitched two clean innings, the Cubs only got two hits and David Bote scored the game's only run on a groundout by PJ Higgins' groundout. Here's the box.

• First game at Sloan comes today. Adbert Alzolay gets the start.

Sox 4, Angels 4

There's no tying in baseball. Unless it's spring training and the managers decide after five innings they've had enough. Can you believe there are people who bet on these games?

  1. The four most important quotes from Arturas Karnisovas' midseason press conference on Monday. NBC Sports Chicago
  2. Boog Sciambi talks with Paul Sullivan before his Cubs debut on Marquee today. Tribune
  3. Scott Powers went through the trouble of ranking 20 of Patrick Kane's best regular-season goals, the least you can do is put off whatever you were planning on doing to watch video clips of all of them. The Athletic
  4. 100 of the best stories from the first 100 editions of "Sports Saturday." Some really good timeless stuff in here.  Sun-Times
  5. Did I spend part of my Casimir Pulaski Day reading a Reddit thread about whether mostaccioli is strictly a Chicago dish? You bet your Brown's Chicken Sterno can I did. Reddit Chicago