clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

San Diego Wave FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Kailen Sheridan

Top goalkeeper finally getting her due in San Diego.

Angel City FC v San Diego Wave FC Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Every good team in soccer needs at least a serviceable goalkeeper. Most need a decent-to-good GK. Expansion teams generally hope their first starting ‘keeper is ready to face a deluge.

Well, Kailen Sheridan had prior experience dealing with deluges of shots, but she made her name creating the “Gotham Force Field” as the starter at Gotham FC. In joining San Diego Wave FC for their inaugural 2022 season, she brought that top level play to the expansion side and got the recognition she’s long deserved after a terrific year.

Sheridan was part of the crop of younger goalkeepers who helped lead a generational wave around the NWSL. After being drafted out of Clemson in 2017, she immediately started for Sky Blue FC, and aside from international duty and injury, she was a fixture there. But it appeared she was looking for a change of scenery, and Wave FC leaped at the chance to acquire Sheridan, trading her ahead of the expansion draft for allocation money and expansion draft protection for Gotham. Don’t worry, Sheridan was effectively the expansion draft selection and she was worth everything they spent to get her.

Sheridan allowed less than a goal a game on average across all competitions for San Diego. That included a stunning 0.75 goals against average in four Challenge Cup games, when Wave FC’s defense was at its weakest and the team was clearly trying to figure things out on the fly.

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

Kailen Sheridan San Diego Wave FC 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
Challenge Cup 4 4 360 7 3 0.75 0 25 70 1 0
Regular Season 18 18 1,620 48 17 0.94 8 44 74 3 1
Playoffs 2 2 210 11 3 1.5 0 50 79 0 0
Total 24 24 2,190 66 23 0.96 8 42 74 4 1

Sheridan was third in the NWSL in shutouts, third in GAA across the regular season and playoffs, seventh in saves, top among regular starters for fewest goals allowed, second in save percentage. Per ASA’s Goals-added metric for goalkeepers, she was second in the league, with +6.60. She was third in’s Post-shot expected goals minus goals allowed, with +3.7. Her scouting report graph shows how good she is, well above average to elite in nearly every category.

Sheridan is the only player in the NWSL to save more than one penalty in 2022, and she saved three altogether. Combined with Carly Telford’s penalty save when Sheridan was on international duty, at one point Wave FC had saved three consecutive penalties.

It’s impossible to say for certain that Sheridan absolutely saved points for San Diego with those PK saves, but they won two of those games, meaning she arguably played a key role in four points all by herself for Wave FC.

All the while, with Stephanie Labbé retiring as a player after the Tokyo Olympics, Sheridan finally became the undisputed No. 1 for Canada this year. Obviously Labbé’s record speaks for itself, but if Sheridan was American, she would probably already be the No. 1 for the USWNT. At any rate, she took over full-time starter’s duties, and helped Canada to a second-place finish at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, winning the Golden Glove award as the tournament’s top goalkeeper and in the tournament Best XI. That booked Canada’s ticket to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and put them in a two-game playoff with Jamaica for a place in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

So it was great on the international stage, and while Sheridan was very, very good for Wave FC, 2022 was a crowning year for her on the club front, too, as she won her first NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year award and was named to the NWSL Best XI for the season, the second selection of her career to date. I’ll be honest, I thought Sheridan had an outstanding season but the competition for this was fierce: you could make a legitimate case for AD Franch, Phallon Tullis-Joyce, Bella Bixby and Katie Lund, in my opinion, for GKOTY, too. But I also think Sheridan’s career shows this wasn’t a fluke season, and arguably being this good in an expansion season is even more stunning.

Sheridan remains under contract to San Diego for 2023, and yes, obviously. Again, while the ranks of excellent goalkeepers remains strong in the NWSL, you can make a case that Sheridan is already world-class. She’ll be going to the World Cup next year barring injury, and Wave FC already have Telford at the ready to deputize while Sheridan is away. As long as Sheridan doesn’t want to go abroad to play in Europe, then she’s the kind of player you keep on your team for the next decade, easily. She’s only 27, and on a Wave FC team that has a number of outstanding players, Sheridan absolutely deserves all the plaudits that come her way. She is an excellent player, and we’re lucky we get to see her on a weekly basis.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.