clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vote: Angel City FC Defender of the Year 2022

One position group stood out above the rest this season, the defense, making this vote even more difficult.

NWSL: Portland Thorns FC at Angel City FC Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises — if an expansion team in its very first season can even be surprising — was how well the defense for Angel City performed. When you consider the first to suffer from the early season injury bug going around was defender and who many pegged as centerpiece to the defense, Sarah Gorden. Suffering a season-ending knee injury before touching the pitch in a match for her new club, it was all but presumed the year would be difficult for Angel City FC at the back. That, however, was not the case as an amateur on her last chance, a forward turned defender, and an Olympic Gold Medal winner helped keep the defense playing at a high level consistently.

We start off with a player not currently with the club at the moment, but someone who, if she should depart after just one season, has done more than enough to etch her name in history. Canadian International Vanessa Gilles was one of the first signings for Angel City, and her impact was immediate. Before suffering an injury of her own that kept her sidelined for a lot of the season, she was emerging as a foundational piece at the back. With an 85% tackle success rate, 49 clearances, 16 interceptions and one very historic goal, her season was nothing short of incredible.

That historic goal was the first-ever goal scored not just in Angel City FC NWSL regular season history, but it was also the first-ever Angel City goal scored at their home, Banc of California Stadium, after spending the preseason playing in Fullerton. It was a perfect moment that resulted in the team's first-ever win. So yea, to say she became an instant fan-favorite after that is a surprise to nobody. Unfortunately, a season as great as hers, for a club the size of ACFC comes with disadvantages. Mostly, being courted by other teams. Gilles was lured away — albeit on loan so I'm saying there's a chance she returns! — by one of the best teams on the planet, French side OL Lyon, with hopes of achieving her dream of playing in the Champions League. If she does return, Angel City will be beyond thrilled to have a world-class talent to continue building with.

If you want a clear indication of just how short-handed and injury-ridden this team was, understand Tyler Lussi had a phenomenal season as a defender, despite spending her entire professional career as a forward. She also wasn't the only one making the switch to fill in the holes left throughout the squad. She did however, do far more for the team than just fill in and do “enough.” She stood out, and not just because the position was fairly new to her, but stood out as truly a great defender for the 2022 season.

In 20 matches played Lussi feautred in 20 matches with 16 starts. She racked up 43 clearances, 46 interceptions, won 52% of her duels, and 64% of her tackles. Despite not having played defender as a pro, it is a position Lussi played early on in her youth career, before ironically being moved to attacker, so this season was a bit of a full-circle moment. It was also helpful having a natural attacker do well in defense, while also bridging the back and front lines with great passing, pace to get past midfielders, and solid crossing ability. While Lussi had a fantastic season at the back, the team will surely be looking for a more natural defensive replacement, but it sure is nice knowing you have a player as versatile as Lussi on the roster.

Before being so rudely interrupted by an MLS Cup Final being played at The Banc — congratulations to LAFC — you would have noticed Megan Reid on the breakout player of the year poll. Reid's journey is one everyone should read up on if you haven't already. On the brink of literally giving up her dreams of being a professional soccer player, and after not finding a spot after training with fellow expansion side, San Diego Wave FC, Reid received a call from ACFC Head Coach Freya Coombe. Freya informed the defender she would be brought in for a look, and the rest as they say, is history.

Not only did Reid play every possible second for Angel City in 2022, she did so at an incredibly high level. She finished 2022 with a whopping 137 clearances, 11 interceptions, 20 blocks, with a 66% win rate in duels. She also flashed her passing ability, with a 78% successful pass rate on over 800 passes, with one assist to go with it. After the season she had, it’s almost impossible to think of her as a player mere moments away from hanging up her boots. One thing is for sure, those same teams who passed on her, have suddenly found her number. However, the ocean gets loud at the beach, so we doubt she can answer any calls. One of the biggest issues for Angel City this season was letting in crucial late-match goals, with the return of Gorden, and an experienced Megan Reid, we could be watching the birth of the league’s best defensive duo. You heard it here first!

Poll

2022 Angel City FC Defender of the Year

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Vanessa Gilles
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Tyler Lussi
    (0 votes)
  • 85%
    Megan Reid
    (18 votes)
21 votes total Vote Now