Kerr, 26, broke her own NWSL single-season scoring record this year with 18 goals while guiding Chicago to second place. She also scored the lone goal in a semifinal against Portland. Last Sunday, the Red Stars lost in the final to the top-seeded North Carolina Courage, 4-0.
Before joining Chicago last year, Kerr played for the Western New York Flash in 2013-14 and Sky Blue FC from 2015 to ’17. She is first in the NWSL in career goals (77) and tied for first in assists (24).
At the World Cup this summer, she scored five times in four matches for Australia, which fell to Norway on penalty kicks in the round of 16.
Her departure is a blow to the NWSL, which, amid the growth of women’s soccer worldwide and the rise of salaries overseas, is fighting to retain top players. All 23 members of the U.S. World Cup championship squad competed in the NWSL this season, but some could soon begin exploring opportunities abroad.
A person with knowledge of the situation who did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the move, said Kerr is looking for “a new opportunity and the next challenge” after seven years in the United States. She also wants “to leave a mark in Europe,” where the women’s game is picking up speed in major soccer-playing countries, such as France, England and Spain.
Clubs reportedly interested include Real Madrid, which runs FC Tacon; Chelsea; and Paris Saint-Germain. Kerr is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks.
Her notification to the Red Stars comes the same day NWSL unveiled a number of financial upgrades, including a 19 percent increase in the salary cap and the introduction of allocation money, which will enable each of the nine clubs to offer above-average contracts while minimizing the impact on the salary cap.
It also comes the day the Red Stars announced every player had either had their option exercised or offered a new contract.