Masar's soccer journey leads to Houston
CHICAGO — Urbana native and former Illini All-American Ella Masar was drafted Friday by the newest franchise in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Masar, who played for the Illini from 2004 to ’07, was selected by the Houston Dash with its fifth of 10 picks in the NWSL expansion draft.
The Dash will continue to build its roster through the league’s college draft Jan. 17 at Philadelphia.
Masar has played a total of four seasons in the NWSL and its predecessor — Women’s Professional Soccer — after being chosen in the 2008 WPS general draft by the Chicago Red Stars. In 2013, the 27-year-old forward appeared in 20 matches for the Red Stars, scoring three goals and recording two assists.
“I am extremely humbled and thankful for all the support in the last 48 hours or so,” Masar said in a statement on the Red Stars’ website. “Without the Red Stars I would have never been able to start this incredible journey of being a professional athlete.
“It is unfortunate that we have to part ways, but from the organization to the players, I know I have made some everlasting relationships that will last a lifetime.”
Masar was drafted by Houston after being left unprotected by Chicago.
“This was a difficult decision for us,” Red Stars general manager Alyse LaHue said in a statement. “But it was Ella’s wish to have new opportunities to play, and because we truly hope the best for her, we wanted to do what was in her best interest and wishes.
“We support her whole-heartedly and are grateful to the legacy she left with the Red Stars. She knows she always has a home in Chicago.”
The NWSL is a nine-team Division I professional league featuring national team players from the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Masar is among the league’s players with previous national team experience. She made her debut with the U.S. Women’s National Team on Oct. 29, 2009, against Germany.