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Angel City FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Ali Riley

Captain settled in well back in hometown.

Brenton Tse

Ali Riley and Angel City FC went together in 2022 like peanut butter and jelly.

It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise — Riley a veteran having played in Europe and American leagues, a U.S. citizen who happens to be a non-U.S. international, and obviously, a Los Angeles native. She had been waiting for this time, after telling reporters she had desperately wanted to play for the LA Sol in WPS, only for them to go out of business just as she left college in 2009. In a career that had taken her all over the world, Riley played in the NWSL for the first time in 2021 with the Orlando Pride, before coming home to Los Angeles and Angel City.

I will admit that I was a bit surprised that Riley was handed the captain’s armband for the season by Freya Coombe, but very quickly it was apparent it was the right move, and Riley was the beating heart of the Angel City squad.

Here are Riley’s competitive stats with ACFC in 2022:

Ali Riley 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 6 6 513 0 1 1 0 0 0
Regular Season 20 19 1,589 2 2 3 2 0 0
Total 26 25 2,102 2 3 4 2 0 0

The only time Riley missed ended up being due to COVID, with two separate outbreaks hitting the team during the year. Riley admitted she had been eager to get back into action after testing positive but realized she needed more time and sat out two games, which was the right call in the end. Fortunately, she said she felt some aftereffects but did not get hit with major complications, and was back on the field in short order.

Otherwise, she was a fixture at left back, and had a great season, playing consistently well in defense and offering a surprising element in attack as well, with two goals and three assists in all competitions.

Riley had the first-ever assist in Angel City history:

And I think the high point of her season was scoring her first goal for the Angels, in the derby against San Diego Wave FC at The Banc. Opening minutes, she scored and then kissed the badge, and it was perfect.

While her attacking output really established her as a fully two-way left back, she did not neglect the defensive aspect of her duties, and in fact the scouting report graph for her year shows she was elite at her position in terms of tackles.

It’s the kind of season that may not garner Best XI notice, but I think was really quite (and quietly) good. Riley was a fixture in the lineup, she defended well, she attacked pretty well and was involved in several highlight plays along the way.

And then on top of all of that, she was a great club ambassador, terrific to talk to with the press and on podcasts and whatnot, and seemed to be having fun. A very good season on the club level, coupled with the expectation she’ll be leading New Zealand out at next year’s World Cup, scheduled to be co-hosted by New Zealand, means this great season for Angel City is probably perfectly timed.

Riley will be back next season, but with her expected to miss a big chunk of time at the World Cup, hopefully Angel City will have a contingency plan at left back. She’s 35 right now, but one expects she’ll aim to be in the best shape of her life for a very big 2023 for club and country, and hopefully that means another strong campaign with the Angels.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.