Emma Hayes says the one thing her first Chicago Red Stars players have in common is that all three really want to play in Chicago.
The coach's new players say the one thing they all have in common is they all want to play for Emma Hayes.
"Emma really gets the game," said midfielder Carli Lloyd, one of the U.S. women's national team players - Michigan natives Lindsay Tarpley and Kate Markgraf are the others - allocated to the Red Stars on Tuesday by the new Women's Professional Soccer league.
"She supports the way I play and what I can bring to the team. She's really going to help me grow as a player."
"I've heard lots of good things about her," said Markgraf, a veteran defender who will join her U.S. teammates to play against Ireland on Saturday night at Toyota Park. "There's a technical component of her coaching that I'm looking forward to."
Hayes describes a style of soccer that fans can look forward to as well. This won't be defensive soccer, trying to scratch out a 1-0 win. That's refreshing.
"I'm renowned for being quite an attacking coach," Hayes said.
It sounds like she has found some players who can match her style.
"Carli Lloyd, she has a technical game that I think is unmatched. She's a dynamic player that will score goals, she will create goals in the middle.
"Lindsay Tarpley is a proven goal scorer. She has a nose for the goal that you just can't teach."
Markgraf, a Notre Dame product, balances the team as a defender who can provide leadership.
"She's a great person," said Hayes, who traveled to China to watch her new players win the Olympic gold medal. "She'll bring experience into a new, professional environment that will help the players below her."
It's a busy time for Hayes. She still has to fill out the roster, starting with next week's draft of top international players, including Brazil's Marta, the player everyone wants. In early October the league will have a draft for everyone who's left.
"We'll go internationally to look at players that will complement Lindsay, Carli and Kate," Hayes said.
The league begins play in the spring, but Hayes was focused on what Tuesday means to the league and women's soccer in general.
"I'm very excited," she said. "It's a historical day to be setting up a women's professional soccer league again."
Again, as in a successor league to the failed WUSA.
"I think this league is just a lot more realistic," said Markgraf, who played three seasons with the WUSA's Boston Breakers.
WUSA started following the 1999 World Cup with big expectations and big expenses. It turned out neither was sustainable.
"Sports leagues take time to build," Markgraf said. "It started at too high a place."
Markgraf has won Olympic gold medals and World Cups, but she ranks this day right up there among her professional best.
"This is one of my most exciting times as a player," Markgraf said.
This time she hopes the excitement lasts a lot longer.
WPS assignments for top U.S. players
Bay Area: Nicole Barnhart, Rachel Buehler, Leslie Osborne
Boston Breakers: Angela Hucles, Kristine Lilly, Heather Mitts
Chicago Red Stars: Carli Lloyd, Kate Markgraf, Lindsay Tarpley
Los Angeles: Shannon Boxx, Stephanie Cox, Aly Wagner
Sky Blue FC (New York): Natasha Kai, Heather O'Reilly, Christie Rampone
St. Louis: Lori Chalupny, Tina Ellertson, Hope Solo
Washington Freedom: Ali Krieger, Abby Wambach, Cat Whitehill