Olympic and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe made her first appearance at Torero Stadium, but the San Diego Wave finished a three-match week Sunday by collecting a point thanks to a record-breaking goal from Team USA teammate Alex Morgan.
The Wave tied Seattle’s OL Reign 1-1 in front of 5,000 fans at the University of San Diego.
“Overall, I felt like we had a pretty good team performance, a really tough week,” Morgan said. “So it’s nice to come out feeling feeling good about this tie.”
The match maintains league-leading San Diego’s unbeaten home record in the National Women’s Soccer League regular season. San Diego moves to a record of 4-3-2 heading into next weekend’s match against Gotham FC in New Jersey.
Morgan got the home crowd on its feet early as she found the back of the net in the eighth minute of the match after Kailen Sheridan played a through-ball to Morgan.
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This goal tied Morgan’s NWSL single-season best of nine goals scored when she was a member of Orlando Pride in 2017. It also tallied Sheridan’s first assist of the season.
Morgan said of the goalkeeper: “Kailen is great with her feet, and her range is the best in the league… It helps us so much.”
Asked about the high quality of her play this year, Morgan said, “In regards to kind of the season that I’ve had so far, you know, I, I just feel really settled really at peace with my play on the field, and then just my life off the field.
“And I think it’s all come together at the right time,” the soccer superstar added.
OL Reign equalized the score with a goal from Jess Fishlock in the 38th minute from a one touch shot to the back of the net, for her seventh goal of the season.
Shortly after scoring the goal, Morgan was injured in a play and remained lying on the pitch while someone went to check on her. A group of young girl soccer players tried to coach her from the stands.
“Get up,” they yelled repeated, possibly out of earshot of Morgan. “Shake it off. Shake it off,” and “It will be OK,” they continued and later shouted, “Be aggressive, be be aggressive,” possibly echoing what they have been told at their youth games.
The second half stayed level at 1-1 between the two teams with a high intensity end to the match and each team taking home a point from the draw.
The officiating in the match again brought some frustration.
“I don’t feel like a lot of calls went our way,” Morgan said in a post-match press conference. “Actually, a lot of calls went against us unfairly.”
“But at the same time, I’m just proud of this group for kind of getting through this tough week,” she continued. “And kind of showing a lot of grit.”
Morgan said that as team captain she voiced her concerns to the referees. “I want to speak on behalf of the team … He wasn’t protecting us in the way that I feel like a ref should.”
Wave head coach Casey Stoney also expressed her disagreement with calls, and was given a yellow card as a result of her exchanges with officials, especially after complaining about a hit on the Wave’s Kelsey Turnbow by the Reign’s Alana Cook.
“The main priority of referees to protect the players and make the game safe,” Stoney said after the match. “And I didn’t feel my players was safe.”
Stoney continued: “I think it’s a question for the league if they think that’s an acceptable level of officiating…. That’s up to them to decide because I’ll just get fined if I speak candidly.”
The Wave made numerous shots on the net in the first ten minutes of the game. Stoney said she was very pleased with the start of the match.
“We’ve created chances now it’s finishing them,” the coach said.
The team played three games in the last eight days. Players said their fitness level has helped them stay strong on their legs.
The Wave tied in their last two matches, against the Portland Thorns and OL Reign, two teams that beat them earlier in the spring.
“Asked how she felt about playing against, rather than with, Rapinoe, 36, Morgan said, “There was a lot of banter on the field, which is fun, but I was trying to stay in the zone and not engage in that. “
“But it’s always fun playing against Pinoe,” Morgan continued. “She’s obviously a very technical player, she reads the game so well… And I’m just happy to see her back on the field.”
Rapinoe had been sidelined this season with injuries.
Morgan and Rapinoe were teammates on the Seattle Sounders 2012 and were co-captains on the national team from 2018-2020.
On Monday, 23 players —including Rapinoe, Morgan and Wave teammates Naomi Girma and Taylor Kornieck — were called up for next month’s CONCACAF W Championship, the qualifier for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics to be played between July 14-18.
San Diego’s Abby Dahlkemper has been sidelined with a rib injury.
Meanwhile, Wave forward Sofia Jakobsson was called up to the Sweden WNT roster for the 2022 European Championship. In addition, Emily Van Egmond will join the Matildas, Australia’s National Women’s Football Team , for two June friendlies.
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan will likely play internationally for her native Canadian national team.
The Wave will prepare for next Sunday’s match against Gotham FC at Red Bull Arena. This will be Wave FC’s second match against Gotham FC this season. Their previous match up ended in a win for Wave FC with a score of 4-0, where Morgan set NWSL records by scoring all four of the goals.