San Diego Wave opens 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup campaign vs Portland Thorns

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Wave vs Portland Thorns
Credit: Portland Thorns

Game: San Diego Wave vs. Portland Thorns

When: Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Where: Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego

Time: 7:00 p.m. PST

TV: Paramount+

The San Diego Wave will play its first game in the 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup this Wednesday, April 19, at Snapdragon Stadium against the Portland Thorns. The Southern California side is in Group B of the competition with Angel City, OL Reign, and Portland.

The Wave did not have a great 2022 run in the competition, finishing third in the group, and will be looking to improve this season. San Diego is coming off a rough 1-0 loss to OL Reign away from home and will now face a tough Portland team, who is undefeated and in first place in the NWSL.

The Challenge Cup always presents an opportunity for managers across the NWSL to test younger players or players that have not received much playing time. For the Wave, this may include veteran Sofia Jakobbson or backup goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy, who was signed this season and is yet to play. It will also be interesting to see if 15-year-old Melanie Barcenas finally gets her much-anticipated debut.

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Casey Stoney has a lot to think about for this game with an upcoming weekend NWSL away match at Angel City. The English manager stressed that it is important to “get over the disappointing result from the weekend.” (vs OL Reign) It was a very tough first loss to take in for the Wave, given that the winning goal came in the final moments of the match, but now it is time to begin a new chapter in the Challenge Cup.

Sofia Jakobsson 2023 San Diego Wave Chicago
Credit: Jeremy Collins/EVT Sports

The Portland Thorns are coming off a 1-1 draw against the Houston Dash after two-consecutive wins to begin the 2023 NWSL Season. Portland’s attack has been on fire to start the season, with 9 goals from three games played, and the most in-form player for the Thorns has been Sophia Smith, who has already scored four goals.

Portland also counts with a rock-solid defense led by USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn, but it is unclear if coach Mike Norris will rest players like Sauerbrunn and Sophia Smith. However, Portland still counts with plenty of depth in its squad as this is set to be a very hard-fought match at Snapdragon Stadium.

Player to watch

Sofia Jakobsson

It is unclear as to which players Casey Stoney will rest and which players will be given an opportunity to start this match. However, Sofia Jakobsson is yet to start a game in the NWSL this season and is a perfect fit for a tough game like this, given her experience. The veteran playmaker has an extensive set of abilities and is basically a lock to be in Sweden’s squad for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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