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Casey Stoney commits to San Diego with multi-year contract extension

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Casey Stoney is staying in San Diego, signing a multi-year contract extension with the San Diego Wave through 2027 with a mutual option year in 2028.

“When we brought Casey on board, we were confident that her exceptional leadership qualities, coupled with her extensive experience as both a player and coach at the highest levels, would make her the perfect fit for San Diego, and she has more than exceeded our high expectations,” Wave President Jill Ellis said in a team statement.

“Her commitment and passion for winning, developing our young players, and her loyalty to this club and city speaks volumes to who she is as a coach and as a person.”

The extension clearly signals Stoney’s intention to stay in the NWSL for the foreseeable future despite being in the mix for other positions in recent years. Most notably in 2024, her name had been brought up as a candidate to replace incoming USWNT manager Emma Hayes at Chelsea FC in the WSL, where Stoney most recently managed Manchester United.

She was subsequently reported as having withdrawn her name from consideration for the Chelsea job by the Sunday Times.

Now, Stoney feels she can make a statement with definitive terms that will bring stability and focus to the Wave as they kick off NWSL preseason.

“It stops the rumors, which is really important when we’re trying to recruit players,” Stoney tells Just Women’s Sports. “It enables me to be settled, obviously my family here as well, which shows the club’s commitment to me and I’m fully committed to the club.”

A settled life in San Diego has been hard-earned for the 41-year-old; it took 22 months for Stoney’s family to make the permanent move to California from England, a difficult separation that she has little desire to revisit. “I think people need to sometimes just consider all aspects,” she says.

“I’ve got three young children and a partner that are massively supportive. But to move them continents across the world to then potentially be linked with rumors going somewhere else, it’s difficult for my partner as well. But we always have very open and honest conversations, there was never any doubt about me being committed here.”

Possibilities of a coach going elsewhere can also affect a club’s ability to recruit talent, and Stoney says she wasn’t afraid to answer obvious questions by prospective signings. “I’ll always be honest with the players, like I’m naturally going to get linked to certain jobs, because I’ve either played for the club or managed the club,” she says. Stoney played for Chelsea from 2007-11, and temporarily served as player-manager in 2009 following the resignation of Steve Jones.

“When jobs open up, obviously being a female coach and being in the game you naturally get linked. My job is to stay focused on how I develop this team, develop these players and stay committed to what I believe in, which is what we’re building here.”

The Wave have allowed a league-low 43 goals across 2022 and 2023 under Stoney's leadership (Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports)

Stoney has already overseen unprecedented success for an NWSL expansion side, winning the league Shield with San Diego in the club’s second year of existence. She boasts a 21-10-13 record, and has comfortably made the NWSL playoffs in both years at the helm of the team.

She also joins Seattle Reign head coach Laura Harvey in emphasizing her desire to keep building in the NWSL despite outside interest, as clubs in the league work to remain competitive in attracting and retaining top coaching talent. That loyalty could possibly pay off for everyone, with the NWSL poised to take a tactical leap forward in 2024.

“This is the most competitive league in the world. You come here, you’re going to have a fierce competition every single week,” Stoney says. “There’s no big score-lines, it’s competitive, it’s fast, it’s athletic. What we’re trying to do is add more tactical nuance to the game, and I think with the coaches that are in the game now, I think it’s the strongest it’s been.”

She notes top coaching talent like Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez taking over at the Washington Spirit as an inflection point for managerial investment, as well as recent international players like Esther joining the NWSL and equating it to “Champions League football, every single week” as a testament to the league’s selling points.

“I’m fascinated to see how [Giráldez] can gel the players that he’s got into the style of play that he likes to play,” she says, noting that the NWSL’s challenges (like cross-country travel) can be unique. “It’s a very different beast here, and I’m just really interested — I know he’ll get time and hopefully patience, because he’s gonna need a few windows, I think, to build his team out with the way he wants to play.”

For Stoney however, her goals going into the 2024 season are clear: keep developing players, and keep winning. “What the future holds? Who knows,” she says. “You’re only ever as good as your last season anyways. I’m gonna work hard to stay successful here, and make sure that I make it a success.”

“I’m very aware this is a job where you don’t have a lot of security, you have to work to keep it. So my challenge is staying in this job as long as possible, developing my players, and making sure that our team is successful and this club is successful.”