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A San Diegan's guide to the FIFA Women's World Cup
Abraham Zepeda - July 20, 2023
A San Diegan’s guide to the FIFA Women’s World Cup - Everything San Diego

The FIFA Women’s World Cup summer is now upon us as opening ceremonies begin at midnight on July 20, but this year's tournament will be different, featuring players from a San Diego professional club for the first time since USWNT greats like Shannon MacMillan and Ally Wagner played in Torero Stadium for the San Diego Spirit in 2003.

Five players from the San Diego Wave will be playing in Australia and New Zealand this summer and others with San Diego ties will likely be making appearances in the tournament.

Republic of Ireland National Football Team

Kyra Carusa, Forward, No. 18

​​Kyra Carusa is the forward and ‘9’ for the London City Lionesses in England’s second division. Carusa is a product of one of San Diego’s best youth soccer clubs, the San Diego Surf, and graduated from Del Norte High School. She will make her Women’s World Cup debut for the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Football team. She made her international debut in February 2020 and has scored twice across 11 games played.

Carusa is eligible for Irish citizenship and can play for the national team through her grandparents on her mother’s side of the family.

On an even more local San Diego note, her father Rick Carusa played American football for the San Diego State Aztecs for two seasons in 1979 and 1980 as a linebacker who notched an interception each season.

Carusa will likely start in the forward position, but will face a tough task with the Republic of Ireland in group B, arguably this year’s group of death featuring Canada, Australia and Nigeria. Their first match will be against the host nation Australia, at 3 a.m. on July 20. The Matildas, feature Sam Kerr, star with Chelsea and one of the best players in the world, as well as the staple San Diego Wave midfielder Emily Van Egmond.

Australia Women’s National Football Team

Emily van Egmond, Midfielder, No. 10

Emily Van Egmond has been a staple for the Matildas since 2010 when she made her national team debut at 16 years old, and world cup debut in 2011. 2023 will be her fourth time in the competition and this Australia team will be the most talented team she’s been on and garner an extra boost from playing on home soil. van Egmond played a crucial role with the Wave as a box to box midfielder making good passes to talented attackers. Having an attacker like Sam Kerr on your team will make any midfielder better.

It’s unclear what kind of role van Egmond will play in this tournament as her fitness level may pose a question. She missed eight matches due to injury with the Wave, but came back as a late game substitute on June 17, and played the first half on June 24 against OL Reign.

U.S. Women’s National Team

Alex Morgan, Forward, No. 13

Not much more needs to be said about one of the all-time great U.S. Women’s soccer players. Alex Morgan is fifth among USWNT players on the all-time scoring list with 121 goals, and leads the tournament roster with 207 caps. She has headlined the Wave’s two seasons as captain and NWSL golden boot winner, but could be facing her biggest challenge yet in leading the USWNT as co-captain to a three-peat after winning the trophy in 2015 and 2019.

Naomi Girma, Center Back, No. 4

It’s no secret that Naomi Girma will be playing a huge role for the U.S. this summer as one of only two center backs on the roster, despite this being her debut in the biggest soccer tournament in the world. Girma is a lockdown center back that can stifle the most talented forwards one-on-one, command a defense from the back and establish tempo and play from the back of the field. She was picked first overall out of Stanford University in the 2022 NWSL draft by the Wave, and did not disappoint. She had an amazing rookie campaign in the league that solidified her spot for the senior national team after attending some as she was awarded rookie and defender of the year honors. Girma was deemed so valuable to the Wave, the team signed her to a contract extension with Wave through 2026. One of the longest guaranteed contracts in the NWSL.

Side note, Girma wrote a tear-jerking piece for The Players Tribune about mental health and the impact of her friend Katie Meyer who died by suicide. It is a beautiful dedication to a friend that reminds us to enjoy the little moments with our loved ones and the importance of mental health.

Canada Women’s National Soccer Team

Kailen Sheridan, Goalkeeper, No. 1

In my book Kailen Sheridan holds the honor for the loudest moment in San Diego soccer history when she blocked a penalty kick against rival Southern California club Angel City FC in the Wave’s first game at Snapdragon Stadium in 2022. She led the NWSL in blocked penalty kicks saving three out of four kicks from the spot, eight clean sheets and a 75% save percentage.

Simply put, Kailen Sheridan is clutch.

Sheridan won a gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a backup goalkeeper with Canada, but this will be her first world cup as Canada’s starter, but don’t expect the big moment to affect her.

Sweden Women’s National Football Team

Sofia Jakobsson, Midfielder, No. 10

Jakobsson has been with the senior national team since she was 21 and was thrown right into the action making her first appearance during the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Since then she has played in 81 matches and won a silver medal with the team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics falling in penalties against the Canada Women’s National Team.

With the Wave, Jakobsson plays as a winger, but with the national team plays what she has said is her natural position as a midfielder often as a traditional ‘10’ who moves the ball around from the midfield to create scoring opportunities for the strikers on the team. Though her versatility coupled with the deep roster that Sweden always has can make her role on the field much more interesting for other teams to consider.

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