San Diego Wave fire Casey Stoney amid 7-game winless streak

Casey Stoney is out as head coach of San Diego Wave FC amid a seven-game winless streak, the team NWSL club announced on Monday.

Stoney is the only head coach in the club’s history to date and won the NWSL coach of the year award in 2022 while guiding the Wave to the playoffs, a first for an NWSL expansion franchise.

Last year, the Wave won the NWSL Shield with the best record in the league during the regular season, but San Diego lost in the semifinals, falling short of qualifying for a final being held in the team’s home stadium.

San Diego and Stoney just agreed to a contract extension in January that would have kept the head coach on through the 2027 season, with a mutual option for 2028.

The Wave defeated NJ/NY Gotham FC in March to win the NWSL Challenge Cup and had a 24-15-19 record in Stoney’s 2 1/2 seasons with the Wave.

San Diego currently sits ninth in the 14-team NWSL, one point outside of the playoff line as the season approaches the halfway mark, and are winless in their last seven games.

The team’s last victory came on May 8 against last-place expansion side Utah Royals FC and its latest result was a scoreless draw against the Houston Dash, which completed a three-game road trip crunched into a week.

The fixture congestion, combined with the travel and the heat wave affecting tens of millions across the U.S. right now, drew the ire of Stoney after the match.

“I think it’s extremely unfair on players,” Stoney said after Saturday’s match. “I think for player welfare, to ask us to go to Washington away, [Gotham] away, and then come to Houston in June two days after we’ve played the previous game, it’s unacceptable. Scheduling-wise, it shouldn’t happen.”

Camille Ashton was just appointed as the Wave’s new general manager and sporting director earlier this month after leaving the GM role at the Kansas City Current in May. Ashton and Wave president Jill Ellis are now tasked with hiring a new head coach.

“We are immensely grateful to Casey for her commitment to our club and the positive impact she has had both on and off the pitch.” San Diego Wave FC president Jill Ellis said. “Over the past seasons, Casey has guided us to significant milestones, and her contributions have been instrumental in laying a strong foundation on which to build.

“The decision to part ways was very hard and not made in haste, but given the ambition of this club, and where we are in our season, we felt a change was necessary at this time.”

Paul Buckle, who was an assistant coach for the Wave in 2022, will serve as interim coach until a new head coach is hired.

San Diego has just 12 goals in 14 matches this season with the decline in the performance of star Alex Morgan being part of the problem.

Morgan, 34, missed time with an ankle injury and hasn’t scored a goal in eight matches. She had 16 goals in 2022 and seven in 2023.