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Angel City FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Dani Weatherholt

Midfielder served as defensive shield for expansion side.

Portland Thorns FC v Angel City FC Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dani Weatherholt was Angel City FC’s first pick in the Expansion Draft ahead of the 2022 season, from OL Reign, so it was clear they were planning to make the midfielder a foundational piece.

A native of San Clemente, she was a Los Angeles “local” in the broadest definition of the term (hey, it’s the LA TV market!) and with vast experience in NWSL already, she was a well regarded player at the Orlando Pride and OL Reign. All in all, she seems like one of the good eggs around the league.

Weatherholt is a defensive midfielder who has a wicked pass. Considering Angel City conceded the fourth-fewest goals on the season, I think she did her part along the way for the expansion side as she was an absolute fixture in the lineup.

Here are Weatherholt’s competitive stats with Angel City in 2022:

Dani Weatherholt 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 6 530 0 0 1 0 1 0
Regular Season 20 20 1,743 0 0 8 2 2 0
Total 26 26 2,273 0 0 9 2 3 0

Although Weatherholt and Cari Roccaro, the two veteran rocks in the ACFC midfield, played in a kind of double-pivot most of the way, Roccaro ended up playing much more like a box-to-box midfielder, especially as she hit a surprising scoring run midseason. In contrast, Weatherholt pretty much focused on the defensive aspect of the game, and excelled at it. As you can see from her scouting report graph on, she’s on the verge of elite for players in the top eight leagues worldwide in terms of defending at her position.

In contrast, her attacking stats are very low — little surprise, considering she took roughly one shot every three games and had no counting attacking stats to speak of in 2022. That wasn’t her game, basically.

The only concern really comes in terms of passing. I’ve never seen a player hit passes as hard on a consistent basis as Weatherholt. She has a rocket of a leg, and when she’s connecting on those passes, sometimes pinging balls, hard, 15 or 20 yards to teammates, it’s a sight to behold. In those moments, she becomes a metronome and really can dictate a rhythm for the team overall to settle in possession and progress the attack. But when it’s not clicking, those same passes pretty much give possession to the other team on a regular basis. In other words, it’s a high-risk, high-reward approach, and the effectiveness ends up being inconsistent. There’s a part of me that thinks if she got dropped into the U.S. Women’s National Team and made those passes, they would come off more often because her teammates would be able to handle them, but for now, she’s not playing with them, and perhaps taking a little heat off them can help the team hold possession better.

Weatherholt is under contract for 2023 with Angel City, which is little surprise considering how big a role she played in the team’s inaugural season. She’ll turn 29 just before the start of the 2023 season, and with a few tweaks by Freya Coombe to the personnel/formation/tactics in the midfield, I think Weatherholt can be freed up even more to basically play the midfield destroyer role and shield the defense.

But Dani Weatherholt was expected to be a key player for Angel City in 2022 and she came through. There’s no reason to believe next season will be any different in that regard for her.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.