For San Diego’s new NWSL side San Diego Wave FC, the 2022 NWSL Draft was vital in bringing depth to their roster.
Headlined by global superstar Alex Morgan, the Wave has an opportunity to take the NWSL and world women’s soccer by storm. The Wave’s initial roster has a world-class GK in Canadian international Kailen Sheridan and USWNT legend CB Abby Dahlkemper. However, there were some glaring gaps in the midfield.
Casey Stoney’s staff sought to solve this problem and took Stanford defender and California native Naomi Girma with the first overall pick in the draft. Girma is a dominant force and solidifies the Wave’s backline, with German-born and Bundesliga talent Marleen Schimmer giving the 619 some international experience in the midfield.
Sydney Pulver is hoping to pulverize the opposition at CDM, known colloquially as the ‘6’, while Girma’s Stanford teammate Belle Briede and Georgia defender Kayla Bruster finish up Jill Ellis’ first draft as president of San Diego Wave Fútbol Club.
With the first overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft, San Diego selected Naomi Girma, a D/M from Stanford. San Diegans love this pickup. It keeps the best young talent in women’s soccer right here in California. Before the draft, some mock drafts speculated that FSU midfielder Jaelin Howell would be taken off the board first, but that didn’t happen. While midfield is a clear need for the Wave, the addition of Girma brings a whole new level of talent and tempo to Wave FC’s backline.
Veteran Abby Dahlkemper is a great person for Girma to learn behind, as (in the future) this relationship could beckon the passing of the Centre-Back baton in the USWNT. Having these two guarding the Wave penalty box with Sheridan between the sticks is a tough sight to see for any opposing strikers. Behind Jill Ellis’ watchful gaze and Casey Stoney’s coaching staff, Naomi Girma will and should become one of the dominant center-halves in not only the NWSL but the USWNT as well.
San Diego Wave FC took German-born Marleen Schimmer with their 2nd draft pick in franchise history.
This selection fills a massive hole in the Wave’s roster, as they need a CAM-style position to connect their players in the midfield with Alex Morgan, among other strikers at the ‘9’. Schimmer joined her local professional team TSV Schott Mainz in her hometown of Mainz at the age of 14. At such a young age, Schimmer was playing professional soccer in Germany’s second-highest division against women twice her age. Sometime in the future, we hope to talk with Schimmer about her time in Germany and the differences between German soccer and American soccer. Her experience abroad in Europe and in college in Arizona is some much-needed professional experience for this young team. Marleen will hope to emulate her favorite player, Ronaldinho, and Wave fans will be excited to see her potentially dominate the attacking midfield for years to come.
While the first two draft picks addressed holes in the roster, none is more crucial than Washington State CDM Sydney Pulver, who locks down the ‘6’ spot on the team sheet. A skilled, reliable defensive holding midfielder, Pulver will try to pulverize the opposition by controlling the pace of play and distributing passes among her teammates. While she may not be the flashiest player and might not have her name etched in the score sheet, Pulver is a force to be reckoned with. Pulver will play a N’Golo Kante style role with the club, a quiet yet calm, consistent starting defensive midfielder that is a force to be reckoned with, yet kind and loved by all her teammates. Another draft pick knocked out of the park by San Diego Wave FC. The Wave was also slated to pick at No. 14 overall but traded the pick to the Washington Spirit for $85,000 in allocation money.
To finish out the draft, Wave FC selected another Stanford Cardinal in M/F Belle Briede and Georgia Bulldog defender Kayla Bruster with their final two picks of the draft. Although these are two high-quality players, some fans were holding out for San Diego native Marley Canales. There is nothing better than a hometown player playing for their hometown team (looking at you, Joe Musgrove). However, Belle Briede will help bring some chemistry alongside fellow Cardinal draft pick Naomi Girma which should connect our midfield to our defense with ease. Kayla Bruster brings some depth to Stoney’s defensive battalion, as Bruster is known for making clutch time-sensitive tackles and challenges, as well as high-pressing her opposition.
To conclude San Diego Wave FC’s inaugural NWSL College Draft, we just wanted to highlight some strengths and weaknesses in the draft.
Luckily, the team ended up with the first overall pick, and although it was not the pick some expected, the Naomi Girma selection was excellent. With glaring holes in the midfield, Jill Ellis looked to address these problems and did so brilliantly. There are viable starters in the midfield now, combined with a world-class ‘1’ and offensive and defensive firepower.
The only area that can be improved upon is providing some depth for the midfield. As of right now, it is looking a little thin in the middle of the pitch for the Wave. So what does head coach Casey Stoney have to say about her draft? Stoney highlighted in an interview on Paramount Plus that the Wave’s roster might look a little different before the start of the Challenge Cup on March 19. So this is not a final glance at the roster. Things are subject to change. Still, this was a great draft and first step towards San Diego Wave FC’s inaugural season in 2022.