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Chicago Red Stars captain Vanessa DiBernardo set to leave club

(Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Red Stars offseason exodus continues, with midfielder and team captain Vanessa DiBernardo informing the Red Stars that she will not re-sign with the club.

A Naperville, Illinois, native, DiBernardo was drafted by Chicago in 2014 and has been with the club since then.

Her exit comes after free agents Morgan Gutrat, Danielle Colaprico and Rachel Hill also opted not to return to the club. Colaprico and Hill have signed with San Diego Wave FC.

In a statement Tuesday, DiBernardo called being a Red Star for nine years “more meaningful than I could have ever imagined.”

“Chicago will forever have a place in my heart, but it’s time for me to start a new chapter in my career,” she said. “I’m thankful to many people who have supported me on my journey, but I especially want to thank my teammates for making my time in Chicago so special. I’m also grateful for the staff who pushed me to be the best player I could be.”

DiBernardo’s exit comes as the club continues to deal with the fallout of the U.S. Soccer-commissioned investigation into abuse and sexual misconduct in the NWSL. The findings of the investigation focused heavily on the Red Stars.

Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler, who was implicated in the U.S. Soccer report of perpetuating a culture of abuse in the NWSL, announced last week his plans to sell the club. He already had been removed as chairman of the club’s board of directors.

In the wake of his removal as chairman, Red Stars player Arin Wright called the change “liberating.” She has since re-signed with the club.

But other players, including DiBernardo, have opted to move on from the Red Stars. Still, DiBernardo remains optimistic about the club’s future, she said Tuesday.

“I have faith this club is headed in the right direction, and I will be cheering it on from afar,” she said.