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San Diego Wave FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Belle Briede

Rookie emerged to become Wave FC regular.

NWSL: Portland Thorns FC at San Diego Wave FC Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Wave FC played a remarkable nine rookies in the 2022 season. Of that crop, perhaps the biggest surprise on the season was Belle Briede.

Perhaps she shouldn’t have been such a surprise. A Stanford product who played with Naomi Girma for the Cardinal, Briede won two national championships and had been called into national team youth camps along the way. Still, as a third-round selection in the 2022 NWSL College Draft, San Diego’s fourth selection on the day, expectations outside the squad were pretty low, by virtue of the numbers game. We’ve seen a fair number of draft picks not earn a contract over the years, much less see the field, but San Diego appeared to know Briede wasn’t a priority around the league and they could take their time to snap her up.

In college, Briede was a versatile midfielder, playing both as an attacking mid and a holding midfielder, and with Wave FC, that versatility helped her see regular playing time. After being a reserve coming off the bench during the Challenge Cup, Briede appeared to prove to Casey Stoney she was the real deal, and she ended up starting the majority of the regular season and then both playoff games.

Here are Briede’s stats with Wave FC in 2022:

Belle Briede San Diego Wave FC 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Challenge Cup 6 2 248 1 1 3 2 0 0
Regular Season 19 13 1,151 1 0 5 3 1 0
Playoffs 2 2 210 0 0 2 1 0 0
Total 27 17 1,609 2 1 10 6 1 0

Briede’s goals were a pleasant surprise, as she showed an occasional nose for goal. In this one, during the season against the Washington Spirit while the international contingent was away, she held her nerve on a breakaway chance supplied by fellow rookie Marleen Schimmer.

I think Briede did well to fit in the roles needed on the field, a unique challenge for San Diego. Many were initially skeptical that Wave FC had the midfield capable of competing, but Stoney built it around No. 8 dynamo Taylor Kornieck and sort of slotted everyone else around her, and it worked like gangbusters. In this scenario, Briede had to wear a lot of hats game to game in the midfield.

I suspect that her scouting report graph on looks somewhat mixed as a result. She has an ability to score on the few shots she takes, and her defense in midfield is pretty good, with passing not really being her lane. However, if you’re playing a third of the time as a wide mid, a third as a defensive mid, and a third as an attacking mid, your job game to game is substantially different, even if it’s all midfield. So I think this isn’t entirely representative of what she can do.

Briede’s second-year contract option has been exercised by Wave FC, so she looks set to return for 2023. Her ability to play a high number of minutes, in several positions and game states, made her a very good depth player. Even if her ceiling is to be a good NWSL pro, that’s a mighty high ceiling all things considered. But I’m excited to see if she can progress more in year two, as she’s got a year of experience at pro level under her belt, and perhaps she can find more of a regular role. Danielle Colaprico’s signing will mean more competition in midfield next season, too, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing for the squad and considering Briede emerged to be one of the most-used rookies by Stoney, I would expect she’s up for the fight for playing time. Briede’s rookie campaign might have been a surprise, but it was the kind of surprise that propelled Wave FC to an unprecedented season for an NWSL expansion team.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.