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San Diego Wave FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Emily Van Egmond

Veteran ate up minutes in midfield for expansion side.

NWSL: San Diego Wave FC at Orlando Pride Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Emily Van Egmond is a veteran who still should have several good years ahead of her in her playing career. The Australian international has considerable experience in the NWSL, in Germany, England and her native Australia, and so it was not a huge surprise to see San Diego Wave FC acquire her in a trade alongside Taylor Kornieck ahead of their inaugural season.

Ultimately, Van Egmond played the most regular season minutes of any player on the roster, and Casey Stoney clearly trusted the midfielder to be an anchor there throughout the campaign. At the same time, I wonder if Van Egmond didn’t get her best chance to shine as she was making do on a new team that may have been a few midfielders short, ultimately.

Here are Van Egmond’s stats with Wave FC in 2022:

Emily Van Egmond 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 3 2 225 0 0 1 0 0 0
Regular Season 22 22 1,935 0 2 18 6 4 0
Playoffs 2 2 210 1 0 4 2 1 0
Total 27 26 2,370 1 2 23 8 5 0

Van Egmond was late to join San Diego’s preseason because she was at the Asian Cup with Australia in January, and was balling out with the Matildas until they were eliminated in the quarterfinal round of that tournament, after it looked like they would have a good chance to make a deep run. As a result of her international tournament exploits, Van Egmond was brought on slowly by Stoney during the Challenge Cup, and the extended time benefitted her as she was ready to go by the time the regular season rolled around.

Throughout her career, Van Egmond has played in a variety of roles in the midfield, but for my money she’s a pure attacking midfielder. The game is not played the same way on the women’s side, but she’s a prototypical playmaker in the men’s realm. Unfortunately, that role is not used right now in the women’s game, and so for San Diego and other clubs she’s been at in the past, she usually alternates between attacking mid, central mid and defensive mid. I’ve already laid out her skillset screams “attacking mid” but she can do a job in central midfield if she has the right complimentary pieces around her.

I don’t, however, think Van Egmond is a defensive midfielder, even though she ended up playing a significant amount of time there, especially after Kristen McNabb moved back to her usual left back role. Van Egmond is tall, but while she does well in the aerial game, she doesn’t have the physicality to really get stuck in with opponents. At the same time, that lack of physical nous means she gets pushed off the ball fairly easily when she’s in possession.

Meanwhile, having to fill in with some roles that didn’t quite suit her game all the way took away from her attacking production. In the end, it wasn’t a huge deal, San Diego still found goals pretty regularly, but one wonders if they could have gotten those few more results to push them over the top and get the NWSL Shield in 2022 if Van Egmond had been freed as the playmaker she is and they had a specialist defensive midfielder shielding the backline. Van Egmond had just one goal, but it was a vital one, the equalizer in the playoff win over the Chicago Red Stars:

That was a great finish, no doubt about it.

But again, I think Van Egmond was a square peg in a round hole, and I think the advanced stats back up that premise. Her mark in ASA’s Goals-added metric in 2022 was -0.76, and her scouting report graph shows a strength in clearances and aerials but otherwise pretty middling returns.

Again, I would say that Van Egmond deserves credit for doing what was asked of her, even if she had to take one for the team quite a bit throughout the season. But I also think Stoney is aiming to remold the midfield for 2023, and bringing in Danielle Colaprico may help Van Egmond. Colaprico is a two-way midfielder, but her defensive metrics are substantially better. In the process, having Kornieck as a marauding No. 8 and Colaprico as a box-to-box mid who can defend well should hopefully push Van Egmond upfield, and hopefully she can find a rhythm getting passes to set up her teammates up top and get more directly involved in the attack herself.

It should be a big year for Van Egmond in 2023, as she remains under contract with San Diego but will almost certainly be headed home to play in the World Cup as long as she’s healthy. Given the tournament is being hosted in Australia and New Zealand, this one will mean more, and in the first half of the year, Van Egmond’s focus will likely be primarily on international duty. It’s part of the club game and I think San Diego expect it, and they should have several more players on the planes to Oceania for their respective countries, too.

So credit to Van Egmond for doing the work, but I do hope the changes being made this offseason will give her a platform to show even more with Wave FC in the future. If she can start next season well, that will give her the confidence she needs heading into the World Cup, too, and from there, who knows what can happen.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.