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San Diego parts ways with coach Casey Stoney

Stoney won two trophies in three seasons with the club

San Diego Wave coach Casey Stoney watches her team from the sidelines.
Photo Copyright Darren Yamashita for USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Wave FC announced Monday that it has parted ways with coach Casey Stoney. 

Stoney, San Diego’s inaugural head coach, has been with the club since July 2021. She entered this season as the National Women’s Soccer League’s longest-tenured coach and amassed a 24-15-18 regular season record. She also led the Wave to their first two trophies: the 2023 NWSL Shield and the 2024 Challenge Cup.

In 2022, the Wave also became the first expansion team to make the playoffs in their first season as a franchise. Stoney was tabbed as NWSL Coach of the Year after the campaign and her consistent success with the club eventually led to a multi-year extension, signed in January 2024, that would keep her with the Wave through the 2027 season with an option for 2028. 

However, this season has been a tough one for San Diego, with the club going winless in its last seven games. Currently, the team sits ninth in the league standings with 15 points – one spot out of the newly expanded playoffs. Through 14 matches, Stoney has led the team to a 3-6-5 record this season. Their last win came on May 8 against last-place expansion team Utah Royals FC. 

Its latest match ended in a 0-0 draw with the Houston Dash, after which Stoney – traditionally one of the NWSL’s more outspoken coaches – lamented the team’s three-game road trip being condensed into a week.

“In this league, we don’t work with foresight, if I’m honest,” Stoney said after Saturday’s match. “It’s extremely unfair on players. 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.

“Travel is brutal in this league. The conditions are brutal in this league. This could have been better. There was no need for this. Just better foresight and planning. I don’t think it’s rocket science to be honest.”

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In a release, club president Jill Ellis called the move “necessary” as the team considered its ambitions and performance this season.

“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,” 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.” 

The move away from Stoney comes just two weeks after the club hired Camille Ashton as its new general manager. Ashton served as GM for the Kansas City Current, where she was part of the acquisition of a number of key players, but also drew some criticism over her execution of player trades.

Paul Buckle will serve as the club’s interim head coach. Buckle has previously worked as an interim assistant coach during the 2022 season. His most recent head coaching job came with the Sacramento Republic from 2015 through 2017.

According to the release, the club will now begin a “global search” for its next head coach.

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