Wave dominated by Pride in 1-0 loss

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
The Wave were shutout for the second straight match.

The San Diego Wave’s inability to score has plagued them early in 2024. From being shut out by Racing Louisville to multiple other one-goal performances, they simply have not been able to score enough goals. But the Wave’s play this year may have never looked as poor as it did on Friday, as the Pride dominated them to win 1-0. 

The Pride were creative and found ways to play the ball into the center of the box, while the Wave struggled to connect passes to progress the ball. 

“We have got to be able to make five, ten-yard passes at this level with detail. If you don’t do that, you are not going to get the result you want,” said head coach Casey Stoney postgame. “Defensively, we needed to work harder. We needed to swing our lines and be more aggressive in one-v-ones. If you play like that, you get what you deserve.”

The Pride’s chances helped them take the lead in the 27th minute when Sheridan saved a shot from Pride defender Kerry Abello, but the rebound fell to forward Summer Yates, who scored. 

The Wave was lucky that the scoreline was not 2-0 or 3-0, as the Pride outshot them 20-4 and created six chances compared to the Wave’s zero. Some of that was due to the work of one of the few bright spots for the Wave, goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who made seven saves.

Sheridan made a notable stop in the 12th minute. She stepped up to save a shot from Ally Watt after Watt received a through ball. 

Sheridan also came up with a couple of clutch stops against Zambian forward Barbra Banda in dangerous positions. Banda debuted after joining the Pride as one of the most expensive transfers in NWSL history, but Sheridan’s solid performance kept her off the scoresheet. 

As Sheridan’s efforts kept the Wave in the game, they had a chance to equalize in the 82nd minute. Midfielder Savannah McCaskill made an impressive effort, sliding to receive a ball at the back post and sending it towards forward Alex Morgan in front of the goal. However, Pride defender Emily Sams blocked the shot, and goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse saved it, preventing the Wave from equalizing. 

Morgan went down after the attempt and did not return to the match, leaving the Wave to play with ten players with which they could not score. 

“It is something to do with her ankle,” said Stoney about Morgan’s injury. “I have not heard anything more than that at the moment.”

In other injury-related news, defender Naomi Girma returned to the starting lineup after missing the Wave’s last match due to a thigh injury. The two-time NWSL Defender of the Year played 58 minutes, making 66-of-67 accurate passes, two accurate long balls, and 12 defensive actions.

Despite Girma’s return, the Wave’s problems persisted. The team could not build up to create chances and made multiple unforced errors. The team was shut out for the second straight match, keeping its goal total at two through four games. But reinforcements are on the way. 

According to Pro Soccer Wire and confirmed by numerous other outlets, the Wave acquired forward Maria Sanchez from the Houston Dash ahead of Friday. The move came after Sanchez requested a trade in late March and four matches after she signed a record-breaking deal.

The Wave won the NWSL Shield in 2023 and made the semifinals in two straight years but has yet to win an NWSL Championship. They were busy in the offseason with signings, trades, and re-signings, headlined by the addition of McCaskill. Now, early in the season, they add Sanchez, an ambitious move that aids their push for their first championship.

“Until I get confirmation, I can’t speak on trade deals,” said Stoney when asked about Sanchez. “My concentration has been solely on tonight’s game.”

It is unclear when Sanchez’s debut for the Wave will come, but the team’s next match is against Bay FC at home. There, they will be eager to get on the scoresheet and win after only one victory in four games.