Who are they?
Angel City FC (ACFC) is one of two new expansion teams in the west division of the 12 total NWSL teams. The team is based in Los Angeles and will play its regular-season home opener on April 29, 2022, at the Banc of California Stadium which will serve as the club’s new home stadium. Plans for the creation of the club were announced in July of 2020 and they announced the signing of their first player, Christen Press, in August of 2021. They played their inaugural game as a team on March 19, 2022, against the San Diego Wave, kicking off their start in the preseason Challenge Cup tournament. ACFC was founded and is currently owned by Kara Nortman, Natalie Portman, and Julie Uhramn along with a host of investors including famous women’s soccer names such as Shannon Boxx, Julie Foudy, and Abby Wambach.
The team’s central mission that motivated its creation and now carries it through its first season is the idea of cultivating a Los Angeles community. Billie Jean King, famous tennis legend and ACFC investor, describes ACFC’s mission as an opportunity “to make an impact on and off-the-field, and to provide an opportunity to some of the best professional female athletes in the world to play on a stage as powerful as Los Angeles, send[ing] a strong message to young girls in the community and beyond.” Through various pre-game events and club pop-up shops in the greater downtown area of Los Angeles, ACFC displays a commitment to engaging with their community and widening the general public’s interest in women’s soccer, especially in fostering a community of young girls interested and passionate about soccer.
The club's colors are pink, black, and white as reflected in their Dawn and Daylight jersey collections. Their crest emulates these color choices with pink a geometric-angel centerpiece pictured in flight against a stark black background. The crest, when on their jerseys, is finished off with a white slanted outline accompanied by white text along the bottom reading "Angel City FC" tying the club image together.
ACFC’s head coach is Freya Coombe, a previous coach with NJ/NY Gotham that brought them to the Challenge Cup semi-final in 2020 and the Challenge Cup final in 2021. Coombe has remained positive and confident about her squad throughout the preseason and is consistent with the belief that “ultimately, [they] do need time to work together and to coach it and to train it” before the team sees a large spike in success. Working alongside Coombe as assistant head coach and performance director is Robert Udberg, whose nine years of experience with Chelsea Womens FC offers reliable leadership and international experience.
ACFC played their last game of the 2022 Challenge Cup against the Portland Thorns (PTFC) and finished the tournament 1-4-1. While their performance in the cup was unideal, knocking them out at the end of the group stages, their final win against PTFC showed audiences the potential that the team is bringing into their first regular season. While they may have had a short Challenge Cup run, all eyes are certainly on Angel City going forward.
Meet the Players
ACFC’s first-ever squad in club history consists of 25 players with multiple known veteran names, some new international players, and three rookies from the College Draft. Going into the regular season there are a handful of names you want to keep your eyes on. First and foremost is forward Christen Press who was last affiliated with Manchester United. As the first official player announced for the team as well as a recurring United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) player, her style of play and ability to create plays and produce shots on targets is a huge asset to the team. Jasmyne Spencer, a forward drafted from the Houston Dash, has so far played defensively for ACFC and has been doing an incredible job of it. Her ability to anticipate opponent movement and win 1v1s in the penalty box makes her a key player in the ACFC lineup that I anticipate we will see a lot more from going into the regular season. Forward Simone Charley, drafted from the Portland Thorns, is an incredible playmaker and diligent attacker. While her playing status is questionable due to an injury she sustained and/or aggravated during their previous game, her impact on the field will most certainly be monumental this season given that she has the chance to play. International player Jun Endo had substantial playing time during the Challenge Cup and showed audiences an incredible performance from her speed and agility to her playmaking - she’s proven that she’s a player always hungry for the ball and eager to assist her teammates.
Overall, the current roster is a solid one, and with players such as Tyler Lussi, Vanessa Gilles, Ali Riley, DiDi Harači, and more - the squad is looking at a promising regular season.
What do I want to see?
Coming up on the regular season I’d love to see more of what we saw on April 24, 2022, against PTFC: patience, confidence, cohesion, grit, and clarity. This team has shown that they are able to complete passes with ease and read each other well in situations of immense pressure. I'm hoping this last performance of theirs is a look into what we can expect during their April 29, 2022 home opener. Alongside that, I’d love to see some more early chances on goal and hopefully, they move away from their pattern of conceding goals early. Overall, this club has massive potential and I’m excited to see how Coombe’s coaching is reflected in the regular season as we see more new players, especially rookies, coming off the bench.
Goalkeepers: Brittany Isenhour, DiDi Haračić, Maia Pérez
Defenders: Megan Reid, Vanessa Gilles (INT), Ali Riley, Sarah Gorden, Paige Neilsen, Mary Vignola, Allyson Swaby, Madison Hammond
Midfielders: Cari Roccaro, Savannah McCaskill, Dani Weatherholt, Kate Cousins, Stefany Ferrer, Hope Breslin (CDP), Lily Nabet (CDP), Miri Taylor (CDP, INT)
Forwards: Jasmyne Spencer, Simone Charley, Jun Endo, Tyler Lussi, Christen Press, Clarisse Le Bihan (INT)
CDP- college draft pick
ML- maternity leave