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Sofia Jakobsson keeps ‘game changer’ magic alive for San Diego Wave FC

Swedish winger has best performance when team needs it.

Brenton Tse

San Diego Wave FC have made good use of their “game changers” — also known as substitutes — in the 2022 season, and that continued in Sunday’s NWSL playoff clash against the Chicago Red Stars.

After a lackluster first half for Wave FC, Sofia Jakobsson came off the bench at halftime and pretty much transformed the game, setting up both goals in a comeback 2-1 win for San Diego.

The final product was obviously most important, but Jakobsson was influential throughout her time on the pitch. After San Diego seemed to repeatedly try to hit a floated cross to the far post in the first half, which was unsuccessful, head coach Casey Stoney brought on the Swede, whose verticality on the left flank gave the Red Stars fits for the rest of the match.

The performance did not go unnoticed, of course.

“Best I’ve seen her,” Stoney told reporters after the match. “Best I’ve seen her hands down since she’s been here. I thought she was outstanding, the way she drove back, the way she got down the sides, the way she delivered crosses. I wouldn’t have wanted to play against her tonight. So direct and so impactful, and I’m just really pleased for her because I just think that performance was needed, and I hope that grows her confidence for next week.”

The 32-year-old made her first foray to the NWSL this season after spending her career in Europe. Winning league titles in Sweden and Russia, Jakobsson had also played for the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid and was an established international for Sweden. But after a disappointing stint at Bayern Munich, she jumped at the chance to join Wave FC.

Finishing the regular season tied for the team lead in assists with Taylor Kornieck and Katie Johnson, Jakobsson missed a month while at the Euros, but her play on the flanks brought something to the San Diego team that no one else provided.

Still, for much of the season, it looked like Jakobsson’s most consistent attribute was her defensive performance. While the current iteration of the sport requires pretty much every player, including attackers, must defend, Jakobsson is a very good defensive winger, both putting in the work to neutralize attacking fullbacks and fellow wingers and pretty strong in putting in the tackle. That was on display in Sunday’s win, too, and she also put in a shift on defense.

But with just one goal and three assists coming into the playoffs, there was some concern she was capable of providing goal production when Wave FC needed it. On Sunday, she proved she could indeed step up and set up her capable teammates, and the rest is history. We’ll see how the rest of the playoffs go for San Diego, but Sofia Jakobsson became the latest Wave FC game changer to live up to the billing.

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