With the new year right around the corner and a new season beginning on March 25, the offseason is heating up across the NWSL.
Wave FC head coach Casey Stoney met with the media this week and answered questions across a wide-range of topics.
Read below to hear from Stoney on San Diego’s offseason roster moves so far, what makes Wave FC a destination for players, and much more.
On Wave FC’s inaugural season and the club’s recent signings:
“Obviously, in learning and reflecting on last season, it was an incredible season for us, albeit we were disappointed not to make the Championship Final. I thought we competed really well, and it’s the same as any other club that I’ve been involved in, you have to evolve. You have to make sure that you strengthen. You have to make sure that your squad is ready to compete in the next season, so we’ve had some changes to our roster. We’ve let some people go, and that’s the hardest part of my job is making those decisions and letting those people go because you make relationships with those people, but we’ve given them as much support as we can and given them an exit plan and tried to help them as much as possible. And now we’re looking at who we can bring in. Really pleased with the signing of Rachel Hill and really pleased with the signing of Danny Colaprico. I think they really add a lot of experience to our squad. We’ve got a young squad. Some of our players are still quite inexperienced in the NWSL, so we’re really pleased with them, and we’re still in the market to make more signings.”
On how Colaprico will mesh with Wave FC’s midfield:
“I think something that we’ve reviewed and learned is that we’d like to possess the ball a lot more. I think we’ve got different ways of playing. I think we showed that last year. We can go around, we can go through, we can go over. I’d like us to possess the ball more. I think the way she plays and dictates the game, her passing game and her game awareness and understanding is something that will really add to our midfield.”
On the conversations with Hill and Colaprico that brought them to San Diego:
“I don’t sign players unless I’ve spoken to them personally, so I made sure I was on both of those calls. My first question to them is always: ‘What do you want out of a club? What do you want to achieve?’ And then I try to spell out what I think we can help them with. Because for me, it’s about maximizing every player’s potential, and I’m a passionate coach. I like developing players; I like working with players. And I can see areas of the game that I feel like we could improve. They wanted to be at a club where they could compete and where they could develop. Both of them felt like this was the right place for them, so I was really pleased when they both came back and said yes. All I can do is speak about the club, what we want to do, what we want to achieve. I say to all players that I speak to: ‘I’m going to sell the club to you but go and speak to the players that are in our environment. Go and find out what you’re coming into.’ They both did that and obviously liked what they heard, so they’re with us now, and it’s great.”
On what makes Wave FC an attractive team to play for:
“I think that it’s still a little bit of a blank canvas which is exciting. I think a player can come here and embed themselves. I’d like to think we’ve created a really positive development environment for players. I think that pays forward when players hear about what our environment is like and how safe people feel, how much fun they have and how much coaching they get. I think that pays forward. And I constantly want to improve players, and I said that to Danny. I really want her to maximize her potential, and I want to be able to be the one that helps her.”
On acquiring Colaprico after her long tenure with Chicago:
“I definitely thought it was a long shot, but it was a shot worth taking for me because she was a free agent. That does change the game for players and for clubs. You know, you can talk to them, which is helpful. I believe every player should be a free agent and that’s my belief. So, I was pleased to be able to speak to her. I knew it would probably take a lot to try and persuade her. I think it’s a big change, and I always say when a player is making a change that it has to be right for them on every level. And if it’s not right, then they shouldn’t make the decision because we’re going to stretch players, we’re going to develop them, support them. We’re going to do all the things that they want, but it has to be right for them. And she felt this was the right place for her.”
On why Rachel Hill was important to bring to Wave FC:
“I’ve watched Rachel since I watched the final the previous year. I think she’s got extraordinary athleticism. I think she’s very adaptable as well. I think she’s obviously shown she can play right-wing back, and when we flipped systems this year, she would be very versatile. I think she can play on the wing. So, I think her athleticism, her experience. I’ve heard so many positives about her character, so bringing that into the environment too. She was just really key for us to add depth to our squad.”
On bringing back Makenzy Doniak and Kaleigh Riehl:
“Two players that I can’t speak highly enough of. Makenzy had a really tough preseason, had an injury, and barely played. And then I had really honest conversations with Makenzy. She wasn’t in my top 6 strikers at one point, but with her attitude, her desire and her work rate, she ended up becoming my first player to come off the bench many times. She started games. She was very, very worthy of a renewal of her contract because of her mentality, and the way she contributed within games. I think she changed games when she came on at times. And Kaleigh Riehl has been a stand-out for me. It doesn’t matter when I’ve had to put her in games, whether she started or came off the bench, she’s been so reliable. And it’s because she’s such a keen learner. She’s a real footballer in that she comes to every meeting with a book. She asks questions. She’s so coachable. Her level of improvement from preseason to the end was incredible and that’s all down to her.”
On preparations around the Women’s World Cup in 2023:
“It has to be a consideration every year because whether you’ve got a World Cup or Olympics or just FIFA windows, you know you have players that are going to be missing for significant periods of time. So, we have to plan our roster accordingly. We have to make sure we have enough strength in depth when we are missing our national team players. I always hope they get picked because it’s the pinnacle of your career to play for your country, so I hope they get picked. It’s a bonus for me if they don’t, but I hope they do, and we have to plan and make sure that we’ve got enough strength around those areas to cover for when they’re away.”
On the takeaways from the 2022 season:
“I think consistency is key. I thought we lacked a little bit of consistency toward the end of the season. But having said that, I can’t complain too much about our inaugural season and finishing third and getting into a Semi-Final playoff. But key moments in those games cost us, especially in that Semi-Final. So, things to work on massively, things to improve. It’s a very transitional league, so that’s something that we need to continue to work on. We also need to make sure we value the ball a lot more because then it becomes less transitional when you’ve got the ball, your opposition can’t hurt you. So, there’s much learning for me about my players, about the way we need to play in this league. Also, the appetite for growth here is phenomenal.”