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Chicago Red Stars hire Lorne Donaldson as head coach

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Lorne Donaldson, who coached Jamaica at the 2023 World Cup, is joining the Chicago Red Stars as their head coach. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Lorne Donaldson has been named the next head coach of the Chicago Red Stars, the club announced Wednesday.

Donaldson last coached the Jamaica women’s national team, leading them to the knockout stage at the 2023 World Cup in the team’s second appearance at the premier international tournament. Following the tournament, the Jamaican Football Federation said “both parties came to an agreement” for his departure.

The Jamaican coach is also president of elite youth club Real Colorado, where he helped to develop USWNT star forwards Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson. Swanson entered the offseason as a free agent but is expected to re-sign with Chicago, where she has played since 2021.

In October, the Jamaica Observer reported that Donaldson had turned down international offers and was opting to take a break from coaching national teams.

“I have turned down interviews but I won’t say which countries. But yes, that has happened,” Donaldson told the Jamaica Observer. “The plan is just to sit back, but I don’t know what I want to do from here. But, I am still coaching because I am still in charge of my club with 6000 kids in Colorado in the United States and so I am coaching every day.

“Coaching is always a part of my life. There is a lot of stuff that happened recently — not talking about Jamaica — but I didn’t want to be involved right now because I just want to just chill and do what I want to do just for a little while. … I have done it for a long time but I just want to just sit back and just still coach and still develop players, but just take it easy for a little bit.”

Donaldson is the third coach to lead the Red Stars since 2021 after disgraced head coach Rory Dames was banned for life by the NWSL for his alleged verbal abuse of players during his time with the club. Chris Petrucelli was appointed head coach in 2022, but the club parted ways with the coach before the conclusion of the 2023 season.

The 2023 season was a rough one for the Red Stars, with the club going on two separate four-game losing streaks and finishing at the bottom of the league table. Additionally, they were shut out in five of six Challenge Cup matches. A knee injury to star forward Mallory Swanson did not help.

In September, the club was sold to an investor group headed by Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts. The club was put up for sale by Arnim Whisler in the aftermath of the NWSL’s abuse scandal and his involvement in it.

“Lorne has a proven track record as a winning coach and an advocate for his athletes. We believe he has the experience and leadership skills to elevate our talented group of players,” Ricketts said in a news release.