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Christen Press shares cryptic message days after NWSL report

(Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

As part of Sally Yates’ U.S. Soccer investigation into abuse in the NWSL, the findings revealed that Christen Press reported Rory Dames for misconduct multiple times and nothing was done about it.

Press, a member of the USWNT and Angel City FC, played for Dames from 2014-17 while he was the coach of the Chicago Red Stars.

On Wednesday morning, two days after the report went public and the morning after ESPN’s “Truth Be Told: The Fight for Women’s Professional Soccer” E:60 documentary aired, Press posted a quote to her Instagram story, seemingly referencing the investigation.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever,” she wrote, quoting Steve Jobs.

According to the Yates report, Press filed a complaint about Dames in 2014 to then-U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati and then-USWNT coach Jill Ellis. In it, she said that Dames “‘created a hostile environment,’ verbally and emotionally abused players, had made sexist and racist remarks to players, and had retaliated against her and other players when they spoke out.”

Two other players corroborated Press’ statements to Gulati.

In the wake of the complaints, Dames offered to resign, but Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler refused to accept his resignation and instead blamed USWNT players, according to the report.

Whistler said the national team players had an “axe to grind with Dames” and wanted the “league to shut down.”

Press said that, in 2015, Dames made it clear to her that he knew she had reported him, leading her to feel constantly threatened. It also sent the message, according to the report, that she should not speak out again.

Press, the top scorer on the Red Stars in 2017, was traded the following year to the Houston Dash. She then made a formal complaint to the USSF in 2018 about Dames’ abusive behavior. Despite her continued efforts, Dames remained the coach until 2021, when he was finally pushed to resign after Chicago’s appearance in the NWSL championship game. The Red Stars organization, however, made no mention of his abusive behavior when they announced his departure.

Following the release of Yates’ investigation, Whisler said he would step away from the NWSL’s board of governors and all Red Stars-related decisions, similar to Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson.

“I am so deeply sorry for what our players experienced during their time spent in Chicago. Our organization is committed to rebuilding trust and respect among players and staff towards our league and club, and I recognize that my current presence is a distraction,” Whisler said in a statement. “I do not want to take any of the attention away from the players’ incredible and well earned playoff run. So in the interest of the club and the players, and fans we serve, effective immediately, I will remove myself from my governance role within the NWSL board of governors and will hand over operational control of the club to our executive team in Chicago.”

Whisler went on to say that he is cooperating with the NWSL and NWSL Players Association’s joint investigation. He did not address the claims made in the Yates report that the Red Stars hindered her investigation and “did not fully cooperate,” along with the Thorns and Racing Louisville.