Sam Kerr leaves NWSL, Chicago Red Stars and signs with Chelsea

Sam Kerr Chelsea
Sam Kerr holds up her jersey after announcing her signing with Chelsea Ladies FC. Photo courtesy of Harriet Lander — Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC.

Kingsmeadow, England — Sam Kerr’s chapter in the National Women’s Soccer League has come to a close. The Australian international announced her intentions to leave the NWSL a couple weeks ago. However, now the reigning league MVP has found her new club.

Kerr announced her signing with Chelsea Ladies on Wednesday.

The Australian leaves the NWSL after picking up her second NWSL Most Valuable Player award. She’s the only player to receive the award twice in the league’s seven seasons. Kerr, 26, spent time recently with the Chicago Red Stars, where she appeared in the recent NWSL Championship match. However, the Red Stars fell to the North Carolina Courage down in Cary, 4-0.

Kerr broke her own goal-scoring record this season, tallying 18 goals in the regular season. She’s also the captain for the Australian Women’s National Team. However, on the international stage, the Australians couldn’t make it past the Round of 16 in France this summer. Kerr scored four goals against Jamaica in group play. However, her first goal of the tournament came against Italy in a 1-2 loss.

Kerr will now be operating on a schedule that’s usual for teams, called the FIFA calendar. Instead of playing throughout the summer, the Australian will now operate on a rough August through May calendar.

Most NWSL players spend their “offseason” by playing professional soccer in Australia’s W-League. Kerr will be joining Chelsea in January, during the official winter transfer window. She formerly played in the W-League with teams like Perth Glory and Sydney FC. Kerr hails from East Fremantle, Australia.

However, in the NWSL, Kerr’s journey started young. In a new country, Kerr played with the likes of Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux for the Western New York Flash from 2013-14, during the league’s first two seasons. However, in 2015, she joined Sky Blue FC. She remained with the club for three seasons. The last two years have been spent in Chicago.

Kerr: “I wanted to come to the club”

Kerr spoke with the Chelsea Ladies official website about her move. She mentioned that she spoke with Emma Hayes, the current manager of Chelsea, and that sealed the deal.

“I felt like I could trust her and I felt like the club is doing everything possible to make me happy and make the transition as easy as possible,” Kerr said. “Emma gained my trust pretty quickly and that’s really important with me. She’s already been on my back about certain things and that’s what I want, I’m coming here to become a better player and yeah I’m excited.”

Kerr said that the most difficult part of the decision making was leaving her friends in the United States.

“I’ve created such a home there, but it was just time for me to make a change,” the Australian said. “And once I had my eyes set on Europe, it was kind of an easy decision to choose Chelsea as a club.”

Chelsea revealed that Kerr’s contract is for two-and-a-half years. However, Kerr said her aspirations will drive her to compete quick and win matches fast.

“First things first is I want to win the league and qualify for the Champions League and go from there,” Kerr said. “There are things like the FA Cup but for me the most important thing is winning the league and qualifying for Champions League… It appealed to me that there is a challenge ahead like qualifying for the Champions League. Unfortunately they didn’t do it last year so hopefully things can change this year.”

From the Chicago Red Stars: A Thank You

Kerr’s decision now affects the Chicago Red Stars.

For the last two seasons, Chicago had a powerhouse forward up top. Now, the team needs to find someone to fill in the deep hole left by Kerr. However, Chicago was quick to offer their congratulations, along with Rory Dames.

“We wish Sam nothing but the best,” Dames said. “She is an incredible person on and off the field and we will continue to support her from Chicago.”

Meanwhile, Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler said that Kerr not only produced on the pitch, but always gave her commitment and contributions 100 percent.

“We wish Sam all the best on the next step in her journey,” Kerr said. “Sam’s spirit, grit, talent, and humor are very special and will be missed.”

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