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Angel City FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Sydney Leroux

A tantalizing taste of what can be moving forward.

Portland Thorns FC v Angel City FC Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images for Angel City FC

Angel City FC needed a spark in their season, and in an effort to get one, they made a blockbuster trade to acquire forward Sydney Leroux from the Orlando Pride in late-June.

Leroux is 10th all-time in goals scored in the NWSL, a recognizable name in American soccer having previously won the World Cup with the U.S. Women’s National Team, but no longer being a national team player, she was hopefully going to be available more often when the team played through international windows.

The timing of the trade was likely no coincidence: Leroux was added after Christen Press, the club’s first marquee-name forward, suffered a season-ending ACL tear, and the hope was Leroux would slot in and be the veteran scorer leading the team moving forward.

That’s not exactly how it happened, however. Leroux had missed time prior to her departure from Orlando with a reported ankle injury, and it appears she tried to play through it when she first arrived in Los Angeles. Playing in the month of July, she didn’t feature for the rest of the season, as the injury was not actually one she could play through, and she was put on the shelf to recover for 2023.

Here are Leroux’s stats with Angel City in 2022:

Sydney Leroux Angel City FC 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Challenge Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Regular Season 3 2 182 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total 3 2 182 0 0 1 0 0 0

The stats don’t tell the whole picture, this has to be the highlight of Leroux’s first campaign with Angel City, something that doesn’t end up on the stat sheet:

For as much as winning a penalty there was great, I think it was won largely on the force of Leroux’s personality, the replays made it look really like a 50-50 shoulder challenge.

Actually, she set up two goals and got no credit for them, as she had the “hockey assist” on this one:

And then, after three games, Leroux’s season was prematurely done. She attended ACFC home games after that on crutches, on a scooter to keep her ankle up, and with a boot on for quite some time.

Leroux did score a winning goal at The Banc this year, but it was unfortunately while she was still an Orlando Pride player. The hope is that she can come back healthy for 2023 and she and Press can team up in a very strong NWSL frontline next season. It seems to make sense tactically, too — Press is a roamer, someone comfortable dribbling towards goal and setting up teammates as much as she is a scorer, while Leroux is much more of a classic No. 9. If Leroux can link up in and around the 18-yard box and be a focal point up top, then Press really doesn’t have to change anything in her game, which is a win-win.

On balance, the trade didn’t work on an on-field basis this year, but acquiring Leroux was the right decision. First, I don’t think Angel City picked her up thinking she was very close to being too injured to play, and injuries simply happen in sports. Second, her personality is pretty much exactly what ACFC were looking for in a star. Where Press is reserved and somewhat introverted off the field, Leroux is funny, outspoken and really doesn’t seem to give a you-know-what, which is the kind of swagger Angel City could use. Plus, as a UCLA product and someone who wanted to relocate to Los Angeles full-time, this works for her and her kids. She’s where she wants to be, playing for a cool club.

Hopefully 2023 is a season where Leroux takes full flight for the Angels, on the field as well as off, and that results in good things for the team as well as her.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.