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Angel City FC 2022 Player Postmortem: The players who didn’t see the field

Kicking off our annual series.

Soccer: Copa Angelina-Mexican Women’s National Team at Angel City FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Angel City FC set off for their history in 2022 with a solid NWSL Challenge Cup and Regular Season campaign, 28 competitive games in total.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll review the season for each Angel City player in 2022. With this first entry, we’ll go over the campaign for the players who did not play in a competitive match this year.

The circumstances for each player in this situation varies considerably. Two of the three players who didn’t feature were goalkeepers, which makes sense considering only one goalkeeper can play at once. On the bright side, even they got some playing a way. Without further ado...

Brittany Isenhour

Isenhour (known before the season as Brittany Wilson) joined Angel City in a trade from the Orlando Pride ahead of the expansion draft, in exchange for expansion draft protection for Orlando and a 4th-round 2023 NWSL Draft pick for ACFC.

The primary backup to DiDi Haračić in goal for most of the season, Isenhour lost the numbers game, as the No. 1 never got hurt and midseason, Angel City added another goalkeeper, German international Almuth Schult, which pushed her down the depth chart.

In spite of that, Isenhour did get playing time in an Angel City kit, as she started both midseason friendlies, against Tigres UANL Feminil and the Mexico Women’s National Team. Angel City won the former 1-0 and lost the latter 2-0, and Isenhour looked solid in both games.

Isenhour has just turned 25 and therefore has plenty of time as a professional ahead of her if she wants it, and I could see her getting a chance at some point, somewhere. It’s a numbers game for goalkeepers, however, and while I don’t expect ACFC to carry four GKs next season, I don’t know if Isenhour’s path will be with this club or heading elsewhere, whether that’s another NWSL team, a team abroad or perhaps a starting role at the USL Super League, set to launch next year.

Such is the burden of the backup goalkeeper, getting little to no playing time and having to be ready all the time, just in case. Isenhour made the most of her playing time in the friendlies, and we’ll see what happens moving forward.

Maia Perez

OL Reign v Angel City FC - 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

The 3rd string goalkeeper most of the season, Maia Perez was a rookie out of the University of Hartford. The numbers game for Isenhour? It was even more crunched for Perez, who did her work in training and getting the team ready for each match.

However, Perez did not finish the season with Angel City, as she’s currently on loan at French club GPSO 92 Issy. The team, in the French women’s second division, gave Perez an opportunity to play.

While the season in France is young, Perez, started the first two games and hasn’t been in the squad the last few matches. It’s unclear if she suffered an injury or got beat out, but we’ll see how things go moving forward. And we’ll see if she returns to Angel City next year — ACFC left the door open for Perez to come back at the end of her loan, but it probably depends on how the loan spell goes, what Angel City’s needs are at that point, and whether she has other opportunities. I think if there isn’t a path to her getting playing time with ACFC and she has a good chance elsewhere, the club is unlikely to stand in her way, but we’ll see.

Sarah Gorden

Angel City FC Media Day Portraits Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Sigh, what could have been for Gorden and Angel City in 2022. Gorden didn’t end up playing a minute in any game for the club, after she joined in a blockbuster trade from the Chicago Red Stars ahead of the expansion draft. She signed a new contract with ACFC, and coming off a season in which she played every minute in league play and was voted to the NWSL Best XI, it looked like she and Vanessa Gilles could potentially combine for an immediately effective central defensive partnership.

Instead, she tore her ACL in the preseason and after undergoing surgery didn’t feature at all. It was a bummer, but I credit the club with not opting to rush her back, even though her recovery seemed to come along well throughout the year. She got a chance to rest, settle in here in California after spending her entire career (and life) in Chicagoland, and hopefully she comes back stronger.

In this way, Angel City should have a “she’s like getting a new player for free!” effect next year. We’ll see who else returns and who else is brought in, but I would be surprised if Gorden isn’t in the lineup next season, provided she’s healthy. Hopefully that will be the case and she’ll make her long-awaited debut in early 2023.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.