San Diego Wave Off-Season Roster Moves

The San Diego Wave set the bar for expansion teams, spending more than half the season atop the table and finishing the regular season in third place.

By Taylor Vincent

After a historic inaugural season, San Diego is in an exceptional position to compete for the 2023 NWSL Championship in only their second season as a team. The Wave almost swept the NWSL individual awards with Casey Stoney winning Coach of the Year, Kailen Sheridan winning Goalkeeper of the Year, and Naomi Girma winning both Rookie of the Year and Defender of the Year. Portland’s Sophia Smith had an absolutely outstanding season which won her the NWSL MVP award, ending San Diego’s chance at a never-before-seen sweep of the awards. At the November 15th roster status announcement, San Diego had 15 players signed for the 2023 NWSL season. 

Kailen Sheridan was awarded 2022 Goalkeeper of the Year and will make attacking teams’ lives difficult in the 2023 season / Taylor Vincent

Additionally, the team announced the extension of contracts for defenders Kaleigh Riehl and Madison Pogarch. The Wave quickly announced they were extending Riehl’s contract through the 2024 season as well as exercising an option for the 2023 season for midfielder Makenzy Doniak. Locking down more defenders for the upcoming season was just the beginning of head coach Casey Stoney solidifying her roster.

In early December, the Wave announced the signing of free agents Rachel Hill and Danny Colaprico, both of whom played for the Chicago Red Stars prior to entering the free agent market, through 2024. Stoney spoke to the press shortly after the announcement, saying, “It really adds a lot of experience to our squad. We’ve got a young squad, some of our players are still quite inexperienced in the NWSL. So we’re really pleased with them and we’re still in the market to make more signings.”

Additionally, in early January, San Diego announced the re-signing of defender Madison Pogarch through the 2023 season with an option through 2024. Pogarch gives the Wave added depth and speed on the wings. Casey Stoney was excited to lock down Pogarch for potentially a few years, “She was a fantastic addition at the end of last season. She added so much value in the locker room, on the training field and on match day, so I’m excited to work with her moving forward and see what we can achieve together.”

San Diego’s Naomi Girma won both NWSL Rookie of the Year and Defender of the Year for the 2022 season / Taylor Vincent

Heading into draft day, the Wave had 20 players signed—with the NWSL max roster being 26—as well as the 33rd and 45th overall draft picks. By midmorning, San Diego had added to their depth in the midfield, signing free agent Megan Dougherty Howard through the 2024 NWSL season, a signing that Stoney said would help the squad. “She was a player who caused us huge problems when she played against us last year and is a great addition. She is a player with great game understanding who can exploit space and create and score chances.” Dougherty Howard will add some experience to the midfield that will come in handy when Taylor Kornieck and Emily van Egmond very likely head to the 2023 Women’s World Cup this summer. 

Shortly after the draft began, San Diego traded $100,000 in allocation money to NJ/NY Gotham in return for the 13th overall pick. With the 13th pick, they selected Stanford midfielder Sierra Enge. Of the move Stoney said, “We traded up the importance of getting Sierra to add squad depth, quality, character. And she’s already been in with us, so she’s familiar with our surroundings and we’ve been able to bring her home, which is great.” 

The rest of the draft was fairly quiet for the Wave with no additional trades. They selected UCLA goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy 33rd overall, and Wake Forest midfielder Giovanna Demarco 45th overall. When asked about her overall feelings on the draft Stoney stated, “With this league and the fact that we played through FIFA Windows and it’s a World Cup year, the depth becomes even more important. So to bring in players like Sierra, like Lauren, like Giovanna, who are young, talented players with loads of potential, really coachable and loads of growth, they will just really add to our depth.”

2022 NWSL Golden Boot winner Alex Morgan will be leading the San Diego attack in 2023 / Taylor Vincent

With Alex Morgan and Sofia Jakobsson likely missing during the World Cup for the San Diego frontline as well as Naomi Girma on the backline, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Wave was still looking to add some depth in those positions. 

As of 1/17/2023

Goalkeepers(3): Kailen Sheridan, Carly Telford, Lauren Brzykcy

Forwards(6): Amirah Ali, Makenzy Doniak, Rachel Hill, Sofia Jakobsson, Alex Morgan, Jaedyn Shaw

Midfielders (9): Belle Briede, Danielle Colaprico, Taylor Kornieck, Kristen McNabb, Kelsey Turnbow, Emily Van Egmond, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Sierra Enge, Giovanna DeMarco

Defenders (6): Abby Dahlkemper, Mia Gyau, Naomi Girma, Madison Pogarch, Kaleigh Riehl, Christen Westphal

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