(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The March 26th, Sunday weather was a perfect L.A. post card, bright, and sunny day of 71° degrees with fairly clear skies above our basin. All in all, it would be great day for fans and families to come out and support the newest team member that has been added to our City’s fantastic roster of professional teams.
Sports wise, the 2023 Opening Day for the Angel City Football Club (ACFC) at BMO Stadium was in full reception mode for the thousands of local and regional women’s soccer fans who would be in attendance for their first Home match of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season. In just their second season, it was our Angel City Football Club (ACFC) hosting the New Jersey/New York Gotham Football Club (NJ/NY Gotham FC), for the 6:00 pm start.
The excitement and expectation of the fan base was very palpable, energetic, and very optimistic to say the least. Fan-Fest was the epicenter of pre-match activity and the Club can boast of a very robust fan experience for those who come early to BMO Stadium on an Angel City FC “Match Day.”
[Photo Gallery Credit]: Frankli Robles, East L.A. Sports Scene Productions, LLC
[1st HALF]: Both teams were eager and excited to start the proceedings and it was evenly matched for the first (10:00) minutes. Then, the #1 draft pick of ACFC, Forward, #21/Alyssa Thompson, scored her first career point during her NWSL debut at the (11:00) minute mark when she took aim from just above the left side of the 18 yard box and drove a rapidly curving liner into the far back of the right netting for the match’s first score.
Then at minute (15:00), Japanese and global soccer star, #18/Forward, Jun Endo, stroked in a ballistic strength 40 yarder from midfield for what looked like an apparent goal, however, the Video Assisted Replay, (VAR) official, stationed at the midfield area, got the Referee’s attention to show him, by rule, the VAR version of the play which ultimately revealed a penalty on Endo. The goal was over-ruled and play continued on with the score remaining the same, ACFC 1, NJ/NY Gotham 0.
At minute (34:00), Angel City’s #13/Goalkeeper/DiDi Haračić made a great save on a short line drive by NJ/NY’s #5/Defender, Kelly O’Hara, just inside the crease and directly in front of the net. Due to her great defensive skills and instincts in the netting position, Haračić managed to smother and save it, much to the crowd’s delight and approval. Due to several early match situations and potential player injury concerns, a total of (7:00) minutes of stoppage time was added to complete the period.
[HALF-TIME SCORE]: Angel City 1 NJ/NY Gotham 0
[2nd HALF]: At minute (51:00), a very controversial call was made by the Referee when he issued goalkeeper, Haračić a Yellow Card for tripping the opponent she was marking. It resulted in a NJ/NY Free Kick from the 10 yard marker. It was taken by #23/Attacker/Midge Purce, who slammed it high and hard over the fully outreached arms of Heračić. This tied the match at (1-1).
Play continued on with both sides doing their very best to hit the scoreboard with a crucial and much-needed go-ahead difference-maker. Then at minute (64:00), the Gotham got what it was hoping for, a breakdown in the Angel City defending backline. An unmarked attacker, #23/Lynn Williams, found the sweet spot from just the right distance to the goal, and blasted it in to the left side of the netting. On this play, Heracić had no play on the shot, and the Gotham were rewarded with their first lead of the match at (2-1).
ACFC mounted a laser-focused and final attack in the late minutes of the match when #7/Simone Charley found herself inside of the big box looking for a good shot, but as she was controlling the sphere and looking for good footing, she was fouled and a penalty kick was awarded to the team. Coach Coombe decided to go with #9/Savannah McCaskill for the try and the equalizer, but her shot sailed long and far to the right, denying the team of tying the match. From then on, the match played out with the Gotham going to their tight defensive blanket coverage to secure their first victory of the new season, while denying ACFC their 2nd consecutive winning Opening Day match.
[FULL-TIME SCORE]: NJ/NY Gotham FC 2 Angel City 1 [ATTENDANCE]: 22,000
[OF SIGNIFICANCE]: ACFC unfortunately suffered two negative VAR decisions in the match and missed on their attempt to tie the match near the completion of the match. Many lessons were learned by the Team and its Coaching Staff in this “sold-out” opener.
[ROAD MATCH #1 – UPDATE]: Angel City traveled to the East Coast to visit the Orlando Pride on Sunday, April 2nd. They defeated them on the very last play of the match in a (10:00) minute stoppage timeframe as #33/Katie Johnson, MidFielder/Forward, got credit for the last second and final match-winning shot on goal for a (2-1) victory. ACFC will next play on Saturday, April 15th against Racing Louisville at BMO Stadium. Kick-off is set for 7:00 PM.