Red Stars midfielder Sarah Woldmoe set to retire after two years with the club and eight in the NWSL

The majority of Sarah Woldmoe’s memories involve soccer.

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

After eight years in the NWSL, recording over 10,000 minutes played, Woldmoe is retiring, she told the Sun-Times Tuesday afternoon.

“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 grew up 162 miles east of Chicago in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before attending UCLA from 2011-2014. 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 club rebranded itself NJ/NY Gotham FC in 2021.

She said part of her always knew she would end up playing for the Red Stars.

She arrived in Chicago ahead of the 2021 season via a trade, reuniting her with four U-20 teammates she won a World Cup title with in Julie Ertz, Kealia Watt, Morgan Gautrat and Vanessa Dibernardo.

“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 total 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. In her next chapter, she hopes to return to the game as a coach, but for now, she plans to center her life around her family.

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

Colaprico and Hill signed with the San Diego Wave, while DiBernardo and Gautrat are expected to announce their new clubs by the end of the week. Their exits leave the Red Stars with a 17-player roster as it currently stands. Kealia Watt is the only remaining free agent who has yet to decide on whether she will re-sign with the Red Stars for the upcoming season.

Woldmoe stated clearly that her decision to retire was not impacted by the reports of abuse across the NWSL, including within the Red Stars organization. Nearly a year after allegations of abuse by 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 the abuse.

The NWSL and the players association’s joint investigation is still in progress, with some league sources under the impression their findings will be released before the end of the year.

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

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