Well, that was fun.
The San Diego Wave fought its way to a 4-2 win against Angel City FC on Saturday. A huge first-ever win for the club against close rivals.
The Wave is now three games into the Challenge Cup, with three guaranteed games left to play.
OL Reign on April 14 and 23, and Portland Thorns in between on April 17.
The Wave is currently third in Group B. OL Reign, and Portland Thorns currently lead the group with seven points each, then the Wave is in third with four points. Angel City sits in last place with one point.
There’s a slight chance the Wave progress to the next round of the cup. They would most likely need to win the next three of their games as only the first team in each of the three groups goes to the next round along with the best second-place team.
Albeit early into the San Diego Wave’s inaugural season, there are still a few takeaways we can slowly bring to light as the players gain some more playing time.
Alex Morgan is still the Alex Morgan we all know
You could hear how desperate the crowd was to see some vintage action from Alex Morgan on Saturday. And that’s exactly what they got. A brace against Angel City to kickstart her goalscoring campaign for the Wave.
Morgan has been left out of a couple of the last USWNT rosters lately. Perhaps leading people to believe that she may be past her golden years.
But after watching the first three Wave games she’s played in so far, I see no reason for Wave fans to be worried.
Ever since she stepped onto the pitch in the second half of the Wave’s opener against Angel City on March 19, she has consistently looked like one of the most dangerous players on the pitch.
During the press conference after the Wave’s March 19 game, head coach Casey Stoney praised Alex Morgan’s ability to change the game.
“She’s a world-class player for a reason. We got up the pitch a hell of a lot more and looked more threatening when she was on the pitch.”
For every side Alex Morgan has played for, she’s gotten the job done upfront. If there’s any aspect you should worry about on this Wave team, Morgan’s finishing should be the last of them.
The youth might be as important as the veterans
There are a few of the younger players I’d like to highlight. In these first three games, each one of them has played an important role and most likely will for the rest of the season.
Let’s start with the obvious, Naomi Girma.
In the Wave’s first three games, Girma has played every single minute — around 270.
Despite not recording a clean sheet, Girma has only conceded four goals in those three games alongside veteran defender Abby Dahlkemper. Two of those goals came in two separate games, one where they held former NWSL champions, the Portland Thorns, to one goal.
After the Wave’s 1-1 tie against Angel City on opening night, Alex Morgan had nothing but compliments for Girma.
“Naomi kind of looks more veteran than a rookie,” Morgan said.
Despite conceding two goals against Angel City during the win in their second meeting, Girma looked fantastic throughout. One of the goals was an own goal, and the other came from Christen Press, can’t be too hard on a rookie for conceding to a two-time World Cup winner.
The next rookie I’ll look at is Amirah Ali, who scored a stunner to put Angel City to bed in that 4-2 win.
The way she carried the ball from almost halfway and was composed enough to place the ball in the far corner shows plenty of signs of a talented attacker.
In her 112 minutes this season, Ali has scored a goal, shot five times, and placed three of them on target. Some great statistics for a young rookie making the most of her opportunities.
Other young players who have made immense impacts on the team are Kelsey Turnbow, Bella Briede, Katie Johnson, and Marleen Schimmer.
Turnbow has played a total of 197 minutes for the Wave and has taken 17 corners as the primary taker.
Every time Turnbow gets on the ball, there’s a pretty good chance magic is going to happen. She’s one of the most creative players on the team and has great technical ability. She can turn away from the defense and spark an attack in an instant, and her ability to create a chance is getting better by the minute.
Bella Briede also has contributed plenty. She’s played 77 minutes and assisted Ali’s goal.
Depth goes a long way
Not only does the Wave have an array of youth players to rely on, but the entire bench offers depth.
In the Wave’s three games so far, they have played 17 different players at some point of the match.
The ability to rotate the lineup is one of the biggest strengths of this Wave team.
They have all types of veteran options in attack, such as Morgan, Jodie Taylor, and Sofia Jakobsson. Then they have younger players who can play the same roles like Johnson, Turnbow, Ali, Briede, and Schimmer. Even in the midfield, the Wave has plenty of options.
Seasons are unpredictable and often bring up challenges no one would see coming. So to have a team with this much depth is huge for the Wave in their inaugural season. Players with huge amounts of experience and players with plenty to prove are all combining on a team with plenty of ambition. The sky’s the limit for this Wave team looking forward.
Next, the Wave play OL Reign at Torero Stadium in San Diego on Thursday, April 14 at 7 p.m. PST in a must-win game.