(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The Angel City Football Club (ACFC) had been waiting for this new season to get underway and then face its Southern California neighbor, the San Diego Wave, in their closely watched and followed rivalry match. And per the NWSL’s 2023 schedule for week #4, this day, 4/23, was the day that they arrived here in our City of the Angels for this early evening, and warm sun still shining, 5:oo PM confrontation.
Now that the wait was over and the thousands of early arriving fans were treated to a great “Street Fair” environment just outside, and around the perimeter of BMO, there was not much more to do than wait till both teams had finished their warm-ups and the pre-match rituals were completed. After both teams’ processions onto the pitch and the playing of our National Anthem by an outstanding group, Netflix: Queen Charlotte Orchestra, took place, everyone was all set to go. Coming into the match, Club records reflected the following, ACFC (1-1-1=4 points) and San Diego (2-1-0=6 points).
[1st HALF]: In the first (5:00) minutes, ACFC had a couple of quick shots on goal, but were unable to put up a score. At the (8:00) minute mark a crosser from the right side was blocked from entering the net. Then it was ACFC who took two consecutive corner kicks that were cleared by the Wave. The pace and rhythm of the match then settled in very quickly and it became an up-and-down and a back-and-forth affair. The Home crowd was into the match from the very beginning as they broke out with their rhythm and percussion group leading the crowd in a number of cheers and chants. Many in the crowd of 22,000 were very appreciative and responsive to the many plays made by its favorite players, but were at odds with the Referee, Ekaterina Koroleva, for not making more calls in favor of their Angel City Football Club.
For the second phase of the period, ACFC showed good dominance offensively as they spent much time camped out in San Diego’s front porch. At minute (24:00), A yellow card was issued to #7/Forward/Ali Amirah and the Free kick was given to #10/Claire Emslie, but she was unable to convert a nicely angled medium shot from just beyond the 18′ box. An “A” for effort was given and cheered on by the crowd, but no luck and no good fortune were realized for their efforts. San Diego’s goalkeeper, #1/Kailen Sheridan, coupled with her strong defensive-minded teammates, were just too pre-eminent in blanking ACFC for the first half and the entire (45:00) minutes.
[HALF-TIME SCORE]: Angel City FC 0 San Diego FC 0
[Photo Gallery Courtesy]: Angel City Football Club
[2nd HALF]: The second period proceeded to be a repeat of the first in that there was much respect shown between the two teams, but not much in the way of the scoring in the “fight or mixing it up” side of big rivalry differences. The crowd was obviously very anxious to see Angel City be the first to put a score up on the huge BMO Stadium scoreboard.
But inevitably, the crowd sensed that one team was going to score, and sure enough, the San Diego Wave jumped on that emotion and scored when, at minute (69:00), #10/Forward/Sofia Jakobsson gathered in a crosser and drove it in with her left-footed laser from beyond the right side of the big box and then saw it go zooming into the netting for the match’s first score. It was made possible when the ACFC defender stumbled on the turf and created that precise moment when Jakobsson found separation, took good aim, and let it fly.
Subsequently, just (3:00) minutes later, a similar situation occurred for the Wave’s Forward/#15/Makenzy Doniak, when she realized that the ball had caromed off a player and was there for the taking. She then measured a good look from the center of the pitch, and then slammed it straight through and into the right side of the netting for the Waves’ second goal. It would serve as the insurance marker in case ACFC would mount any final attacks before the match’s conclusion.
Then at minute (84:00), the majority of BMO Stadium held its collective breath as ACFC Rookie, #21/Alyssa Thompson, went down onto the pitch when a Wave player fell very hard on her lower back. She did manage to remain in the match, but was grimacing with some pain and was soon removed as a medical precaution at the (86:00) mark by Head Coach Freya Coombe. Referee Koroleva added (6:00) minutes of Stoppage time to her watch as both medical teams’ visited their respective players who needed attention due to hard-core collisions of this type. Angel City made the most of the extra time as they made several unsuccessful rapid-fire and fierce goal-minded attacks to score.
[FULL-TIME SCORE]: San Diego Wave FC 2 Angel City FC 0
[ATTENDANCE]: 22,000 (Sold-Out)
[OF SIGNIFICANCE]: Angel City’s training and medical staff will take a close look at the injury to Thompson which she sustained in the final phase of time left in the match. It appeared that she was favoring her lower back or hip area.
[NEXT UP]: Saturday, April 29th, Road game at Portland Thorns FC. Kick-off is set for 7:30 pm. To watch the broadcast, go to Paramount+
[#8/Julie Ertz, ACFC Midfielder]
On feelings towards her return to the NWSL:
“I’m so grateful to be here. The second I walked out of seeing all these fans, being one of the first players in the NWSL, even in the time I’ve been out, to come back here and just see the growth of the NWSL is just absolutely incredible.”
“I’m growing as a first time mom coming back. I can’t even thank my family enough and the support they have given me day in and day out and not even just that. Now I’m having so much fun playing with the team. Obviously, today is not the outcome that we want, but to be able to put a performance together, and having something we can grow off of. I had so much fun tonight.”
On playing in front of tonight’s crowd:
“The first word is absolutely unbelievable. It was a dream, our hope of where the NWSL could be. To be a part of a team that has really built that and the number of people when I walked by said ‘welcome home’, is a really fun embrace to have. To create this type of culture that is fans and players, have a fun interaction of just pure joy for the game. I couldn’t have enjoyed the atmosphere anymore back here.”
On how the energy is since joining the club:
“This team is special. I knew it from the second I came in. This is a winning culture. This team wants to win. Every game they’re trying to figure out what it is. We need to continue to grow. It’s early in the season, which is great. Now it’s holding each other accountable both individually and collectively.”
“It is so fun to find the confidence in younger players as well. You have two more veteran players in this league, but to see Alyssa [Thompson] thriving in a crowd like this and doing what she loves to do. It brings confidence to each other as well and the next piece is getting that camaraderie together and really putting a full 90 minutes together.”
[#5/Ali Riley, ACFC Defender]
On overall performance:
“I hate losing, but I don’t think the score reflected the way we played tonight. I hope that people are excited about this team off the back of this performance.”
“It’ll come. I’m very positive and optimistic. I truly believe that tonight is a turning point for us.”
On the addition of Julie Ertz:
“Her physical presence, her ability to clean up balls that fall back, winning second balls, it’s exceptional. She knows the game so well.”
“I heard Julie [Ertz] say her first impression of the team was how good people we are and how excited she is to play with us. She could feel a winning mentality, and she felt very welcomed. That means more than anything to me. That’s something that I take great pride in. It’s the most important thing, that a player can come in and feel welcomed and feel like they can express themselves, like they are home.”
On the upcoming ANGEL CITY documentary series on HBO:
“Viewers will be completely 110 percent convinced that this is a group of women, an ownership group, and a club that you can get behind that are amazing role models. I hope it’s something that inspires other businesses, organizations, clubs, leagues, and federations around the world.”
[Freya Coombe, ACFC Head Coach]
On Julie Ertz’s performance and her minutes:
“She had a really good presence on the ball and looked calm under pressure, which translated to the rest of the team. They were a lot calmer on the ball, so even when pressed she was able to deal with pressure really well and play out of it calmly. Having her leadership in the center to direct is huge for us.”
“She hasn’t been with us for that long so in terms of knowing player tendencies and how we want to play, we’re still learning. The impact that she was able to make so early was fantastic. She has trained with us for a few short days but has shown her quality. We all know how good she can be on the ball and also off the ball. It was time for us to start her, she’s in great shape, she’s done a brilliant job getting herself fit again, and is ready to go. Now it’s about looking at how we can utilize her to help us win games.”
On highlights in tonight’s match:
“We could have gotten something more out of the game. We were disciplined and played for the longest period of time this season, in terms of consistency of our performance. Ultimately some of the statistics reflect that we weren’t clinical enough in the final third. In terms of the shots we were able to create that were on target it just wasn’t enough.”
On Claire Emslie’s role and impact:
“Claire has been really impactful and had another great game tonight in terms of her ability to put the ball in the box in set pieces and in open play. It was great to see her getting on the ball a little bit more tonight and being able to go one-on-one at players and combine with whether it’s Savannah [McCaskill] around her or Ali [Riley], having some of those combination plays. She’s got that versatility, she’ll pop up on the right side, left side and she’ll take free kicks with the right foot, left foot which keeps it unpredictable. She’s fantastic and she had the grit between her teeth and was solid defensively as well tonight.”
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