The start of a new season has officially arrived with the 2023 NWSL Collegiate Draft just days away. As it stands, it’s set to be a relatively quiet night for San Diego Wave FC in their second season as a club. The team have the 33rd and 45th picks overall, having made the best out of holding the top pick overall last season and selecting a generational talent at defender, Naomi Girma. Just because the draft may be quiet for the Wave, they very much expect to make even more noise this season.
Taking Naomi Girma with the first pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft was only the beginning of great things coming San Diego's way. The defender finished the season with Defender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and First Team Best XI honors in the NWSL. The club was also able to sign young standout in the midfield, Jaedyn Shaw, who finished her first professional season with three goals and a handful of key plays in big moments. As a whole, the team finished in third place, and made it as far as the Western Conference Finals before falling to eventual NWSL champions, Portland Thorns.
Which brings us to this season. 2023 isn't just year two for the now former expansion side, but it is also a World Cup year. As we saw during several International windows during last season, that means we are likely looking at a large chunk of time where the team will be missing a huge core of players. You can pretty much presume most if not all of those who missed time this past season, will be called to join their respective International teams in Australia.
The team is also welcoming a couple new faces to San Diego, as free agents forward Rachel Hill and midfielder Danielle Colaprico both joined the Wave in the early stages of free agency. While the easy answer to what success looks like in year two is to suggest this team find their way into the NWSL Finals this time around, I would argue it's not even as daunting a task as that.
The biggest expectation for this upcoming season should be consistency. Yes, the team will want to prove last season wasn't a fluke or beginner’s luck, but they should want to do more than that. They should build on what was set forth last season. They've already proven soccer can and will thrive in San Diego, as well as shown at its peak, this is a team that can be top of the league. Now, San Diego has a chance to cement itself as a true championship contender in the NWSL.
San Diego opened a lot of eyes as they made expansion team history, becoming the first expansion side to reach the playoffs, and finishing with the most points in a season ever from a club in their first year. They also have a few extremely talented youngsters to help balance the incredibly talented veterans on the team. Truly, the biggest hurdle for this team in 2023 will be navigating the World Cup period. If they can find themselves still in good shape when that dust settles, they could find themselves even further ahead of schedule at the conclusion of year two. First, things first though, adding more talent through the draft. See you in a couple of days!
How do you feel about the new season? What are you looking forward to most? Leave a comment below!