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What to know about San Diego Wave FC amid their historic playoff run

The San Diego Wave FC stand for the national anthem before a game against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, May 15, 2022.
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 15: The San Diego Wave FC stand for the national anthem before a game against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, May 15, 2022.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Led by World Cup champion Alex Morgan, San Diego Wave FC is in the semifinals of the NWSL playoffs, and they’ve already made history in their inaugural season.

1

San Diego Wave FC is the first expansion team in National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) history to make the playoffs in their inaugural season.

And not only have they made the playoffs, but they’ve already won the quarterfinal and are one game away from the championship. If you are a fan of the beautiful game, then you probably already know this. If you don’t, let us put you up on game — soccer game that is.

Wave FC have World Cup champions on the team such as Alex Morgan. They’re breaking records. And they already have a fan support group.

If you don’t know all of this, we decided to write up a guide to help you get more familiar with San Diego’s women’s professional soccer team.

If you’re a dedicated supporter already, ignore this and head over to our sports team’s coverage of the Wave here.

2

How did Wave FC wash ashore in San Diego?

San Diego Wave players line up before a game against the Portland Thorns ON March 26, 2021 in San Diego, Calif.
San Diego Wave players line up before a game against the Portland Thorns March 26, 2021 in San Diego.
(Denis Poroy)

On June 8, 2021, the National Women’s Soccer League announced San Diego would be getting an expansion team, with the first season taking place in 2022. The Wave is owned by businessman Ron Burkle and has Jill Ellis — a former two-time World Cup champion coach for the U.S. women’s national team — as their club president.

3

Who is the coach?

San Diego Wave head coach Casey Stoney on the pitch after a NWSL game against Angel City April, 2, 2022 in San Diego, Calif.
San Diego Wave head coach Casey Stoney leaves the field after a NWSL game against Angel City April, 2, 2022 in San Diego, Calif.
(Denis Poroy/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Casey Stoney was named head coach on July 14, 2021. Previously, she led Manchester United in the Women’s Super League for three seasons. Her team won the Football Association Women’s Championship her first season and gained promotion. As a defender for England’s national team, Stoney played in 130 matches and scored six goals. She also appeared in three World Cups. Now, Stoney is nominated for 2022 NWSL Coach of the Year.

4

Who is the best player on the team?

San Diego Wave FC forward Alex Morgan waves to fans at Torero Stadium in USD on Sunday, June 12, 2022.
San Diego Wave FC forward Alex Morgan waves to fans at Torero Stadium in USD on Sunday, June 12, 2022.
(Kristian Carreon/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Wave are led by Alex Morgan, a two-time World Cup champion with the U.S. women’s national team. Morgan not only led her team in goals, 16, but the entire league. This season, she is nominated for the NWSL’s Most Valuable Player award.

5

How did the team perform during the 2022 season?

San Diego Wave FC celebrates goal during the first half against OL Reign at Torero Stadium in USD on Sunday, June 12, 2022.
San Diego Wave FC celebrates Alex Morgan’s first goal during the first half of the game against OL Reign at Torero Stadium in USD on Sunday, June 12, 2022.
(Kristian Carreon/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

In 2022, Wave FC became the first NWSL expansion team to reach the playoffs in their inaugural season. They finished with 10 wins, six ties and six losses, totaling 36 points (three points per win, 1 point for tie). The team entered the playoffs as the third-seed, where six of the 12 NWSL clubs make the playoffs.

6

How did they get to the semifinals?

The team defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 in a quarterfinal match on Oct.16. Team captain Alex Morgan scored the game-winning goal in the 110th minute off a header. The Wave had been down 1-0 before Emily van Egmond tied the game in the 67th minute.

7

Where can you watch Wave FC play?

They started off their inaugural season playing at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium. Now, the Wave play their home games at the new Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley. Since playing at Snapdragon, they have set two NWSL attendance records. The first was on Sept. 17 during a match versus Angel City FC where 27,248 Wave supporters attended. The second was at the Wave’s first-ever playoff game, which attracted 26,215 and set a league postseason attendance record on Oct. 16. The Wave can also be seen on your TV, laptop or mobile device via CBS, CBS Sports Network, Paramount + or the NWSL official Twitch channel.

8

Do the Wave have a support group?

San Diego Wave FC fans watch the match against OL Reign at Torero Stadium in USD on Sunday, June 12, 2022.
San Diego Wave FC fans watch the match against OL Reign at Torero Stadium in USD on Sunday, June 12, 2022.
(Kristian Carreon/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Soccer teams traditionally have a dedicated and enthusiastic support group within the larger fan base. These fans chant, wave flags, beat drums, set off smoke bombs and create an exciting atmosphere at matches in the stands. The Wave are backed by the Sirens Support Group. They are an independent support group which helps organize fan watch parties and positive, family-friendly home game experiences.

9

What are the colors and crest of the club?

A fan with a Wave tattoo watches as the San Diego Wave FC played the Chicago Red Stars at USD on Sunday, May 15, 2022.
A fan with a Wave tattoo watches as the San Diego Wave FC played the Chicago Red Stars at USD on Sunday, May 15, 2022.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The crest is a wave curling over the sunset on the horizon with “San Diego” arching over the top. The colors are pink, orange and two shades of ocean blue. The home jerseys are primarily a dark blue with a lighter blue around the sleeves and sides. For away games, they wear white jerseys with a crest over the heart of the chest.

10

Who scored the franchise’s first goal?

Kaleigh Riehl of the San Diego Wave FC celebrates the game-winning goal against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, May 15, 2022
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 15: Kaleigh Riehl of the San Diego Wave FC, right, celebrates the game-winning goal against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, May 15, 2022.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

In Wave FC’s debut game on March 19, defender Kaleigh Riehl scored in the 81st minute off a corner kick versus fellow expansion team Angel City FC in the NWSL Challenge Cup, a preseason group-play competition.

11

Who are some of the other notable players?

San Diego Wave defender Naomi Girma speaks to the media at the Wave training facility on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022
Del Mar, CA - September 15: San Diego Wave defender Naomi Girma speaks to the media at the Wave training facility on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022 in Del Mar, CA.
(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Besides Alex Morgan, the Wave have recognizable players such as defender and rookie Naomi Girma, who is nominated for League MVP, Defender of the Year and Rookie of the Year; and goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who is nominated for best goalie in the NWSL and is a member the Canadian women’s national team.

Also a few notable players have been on and off the pitch much of this season due to injuries. Abby Dahlkemper, a defender and the first Wave FC player ever signed, has been sidelined with rib fractures and a back injury, and forward Katie Johnson, who also plays for the Mexican national team, has an injured right foot.

In addition, the team is filled with players from international teams such as forward Sofia Jakobsson, from Sweden; midfielder Emily van Egmond, from Australia; forward Jodie Taylor, from England; and backup goalkeeper Carly Telford, from England.

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