ACFC Defends the Banc: ACFC vs KC Current Game Recap
On the evening of May 21, 2022, the late-night match at the Banc of California stadium saw a 1-0 win for Angel City FC, giving the expansion team three more points. This win puts them second on the table nearing the end of the 4th week of the regular NWSL season.
Both teams went into the match invigorated and determined to win. The Kansas City Current went into the matchup with some significant setbacks seeing as 8 of their players were unavailable due to injury and COVID protocols. The Current has been questioned quite heavily for their lack of depth as well as the absence of some prominent players such as Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams, giving the team a reason to work even harder to overcome these challenges. ACFC went into the game after a win against the Washington Spirit, looking to defend the Banc going into their first NWSL regular season as a club. This was the first time these two teams met and it seems like their competitive chemistry will carry on to further matchups.
The Current started off the first 20 minutes of the game dominating with a heavy presence in the attacking third. The defensive presence of Desiree Scott was notable in the 5th-minute, as she dispossessed ACFC’s Jasmyne Spencer for the team's real first look at a shot on target. Much of the game as well as these crucial first minutes were defined by performances from KC’s Alexis Loera. The 9th minute called for a free kick right outside of the box. Loera’s excellent shot on goal was expertly saved by Didi Haračić but set the tone for what would be a physical game with many more free-kick opportunities to come. KC’s Victoria Pickett also saw some action in the 11th minute with a great and dominating run down the field to the final third which led to another Loera free kick in the 12th minute. Unfortunately for the Current, Loera skied this kick. ACFC picked up some speed with an impeccable performance from Simone Charley who ran into the box in the 14th minute, forcing AD Franch to leave her line to make the save. The 16th minute also saw more Charley action when Spencer crossed it to her in the box. However, KC’s Elizabeth Ball made an impressive defensive header, clearing the ball.
Going into the later part of the first half ACFC began to pick up some attacking speed. 20 minutes in there was some great interplay in the box after Charley managed to keep the ball in play and passed it to Christen Press, but the play was interrupted by KC defenders. KC’s first clear shot on goal came in the 25th minute from Katie Hamilton whose rocketed ball was blocked by ACFC’s Vanessa Gilles. In the 29th minute, Charley received the first yellow card of the game after a collision with Ball.
Just seconds after that yellow Charley was determined to get back into KC’s box and in the 30th minute off some amazing footwork from Spencer, she had a 1v1 with Franch. Franch managed to come off her line to make the save but ACFC started to show some real danger here. The 33rd-36th minute built off this ACFC momentum with a series of consecutive shots by Press, Lussi, and McCaskill which were cleared respectively.
Ball showed one of the more brilliant performances from the Current in this match with her solid defending, one instance in the 39th minute when blocking a shot from Jun Endo. Endo and Ball were an impeccable matchup here and the skill from both was undeniable in this 1v1.
The first half ended in 0-0 but saw a surprising amount of physicality from both teams. By the time the first half was complete, the two teams had racked up an impressive 21 fouls total, taking the title of the highest number of fouls in the first half of an NWSL game. The graphic above, courtesy of data editor Tony for StatsPerform, depicts the 21 fouls in the first half and their locations on the field, showing how physical the two teams were.
The second half saw an early start from ACFC with an explosive run from Charley into the box but she was left with little space to work with. In the 48th minute, KC retaliated with an impressive shot from Elyse Bennett that found the hands of Haračić instead of the back of the net. There was some danger in the 61st minute when Pickett attempted a play at the back post causing Haračić to leave her line and make an impressive last effort save.
Adding onto the already physical game another yellow card was handed out in the 63rd minute to Pickett for a foul on Spencer. The free-kick by McCaskill found a great cross to Press that was turned over to Gilles for a header that was unfortunately too wide.
The first and only goal of the match happened in the 69th minute off a run by Press. After losing space near the right post she made the decision to add pressure to KC’s Taylor Leach and forced an own goal. The Current attempted to retaliate but a pass from Hamilton to Kate Del Fava could not be settled.
ACFC tried for another goal in the 76th minute off a rocket from Endo but Franch made an expert and seamless save off the play. Press tried something similar in the 80th minute but the shot went right into Franch’s gloves as well. In the 89th minute, the last yellow card of the game was given to Ball for a handball, but unfortunately, ACFC couldn’t capitalize on that free-kick and after 4 minutes of stoppage time, the game ended 1-0.
This inaugural match-up between these two teams showed audiences an intense and determined style of play that will hopefully continue to be seen as they gear up for their next matches: KC Current on May 25th, 2022 against OL Reign and ACFC on May 29th, 2022 against Gotham FC.