Preview: San Diego Wave face the Chicago Red Stars in NWSL quarter-finals


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Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

The third-seeded San Diego Wave FC takes on the sixth-seeded Chicago Red Stars in the quarter-finals as the Wave becomes the first-ever NWSL expansion team to play in the playoffs on Sunday, October 16.

The match will be the Wave’s third match at Snapdragon Stadium and its second sell-out of the new venue.

The two teams have met twice in their short history, with San Diego victorious in both. The first meeting was a 2-1 home win for San Diego. In Chicago, the Wave eked out a 1-0 win with ten players on the field for the last 30 minutes. 

“Obviously, a massively exciting opportunity for us as a club – our first-ever season to be in the playoffs is a huge achievement for the club, the players, and the staff,” head coach Casey Stoney said in a press conference on Friday. “We know we are up against a very good team with very good attacking threats. It is also a team we know we can do well against, so it’s an exciting opportunity for us.”

San Diego Wave FC
Credit: San Diego Wave

With all the excitement, San Diego fans’ nerves will be tested as the team for San Diego may be without two of their star players on Sunday, with Taylor Kornieck and Alex Morgan still returning from injuries. 

“To be honest, when it comes to Alex and Taylor, at the moment, it’s still very, very questionable,” Stoney said. “Both of them have been seriously injured, so we are still working day-by-day at the moment.”

The San Diego Wave’s regular season was highlighted by a 10-6-6 record, the golden boot award for Alex Morgan, and plenty of nominations for postseason awards. Rookie defender Naomi Girma was nominated for the rookie, defender, and most valuable player of the year, Morgan was nominated for most valuable player of the year, Kailen Sheridan for goalkeeper of the year, and Casey Stoney for coach of the year.

But regular season awards are the least of San Diego’s worries as they look to make waves during their first trip to the playoffs. 

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San Diego is one of two teams to undergo their first seasons in the NWSL this year. San Diego secured its playoff berth on Sept. 25 in a 2-2 road tie against Orlando Pride to become the first-ever NWSL expansion team to make the playoffs in their inaugural year. Angel City FC, San Diego’s Los Angeles-based rivals, were the other team experiencing their inaugural season but just missed the playoffs by four points.

Coming into Sunday’s quarter-final match, San Diego will be looking toward their two attacking players to spark their offense. 17-year-old Jaedyn Shaw has been a revelation for San Diego since signing in late July. Shaw has three goals in five games and San Diego’s only goal at Snapdragon Stadium so far. Alex Morgan finished the season as the leading goalscorer in the NWSL with 15 goals and two assists in her 17 appearances. San Diego will hope she can resume her form in the playoffs, as her last goal came over a month ago on Sept. 10.

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