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Angel City FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Jun Endo

Fan favorite set tone for Angels’ energy on the field.

NWSL: Angel City FC at San Diego Wave FC Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

In a season in which Angel City FC had to deal with a plethora of injuries to key players and not one but two COVID outbreaks, players who could be considered true ironwomen were hard to find on the roster. But Jun Endo was one of said ironwomen, and the only player to feature in every single competitive game for the Angels in 2022.

Endo arrived stateside from Japanese outfit Tokyo Verdy Beleza ahead of Angel City’s inaugural campaign, and it was interesting to hear the motivation for the then-21 year old’s move: Already a Japanese senior international, having previously won the U-20 World Cup with Japan, Endo sought to move outside her comfort zone, play in a league where physicality is far more paramount than what she was used to, and really just challenge herself. It’s a big move for any player to make, much less one as young as her, but the winger was ready to test herself.

Endo’s durability was a huge plus, especially on a team where injuries and illness were an issue, but her biggest asset? Boundless energy, and I think you could make a case that’s where her imprint was felt most on the squad.

Angel City was not the most skilled team. They were certainly not the deepest team. But they were the team that grinded hardest of all in NWSL in 2022. They typically started games as high octane as possible and hoped that determination would hold until the final whistle. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes they dug deep for results, and sometimes they ran out of gas and dropped points.

But Endo was central to this gameplan. Her energy felt limitless, and her ability to put in the work in defense as well as her attacking role helped the cause game after game. One of the best individual performances of the year for ACFC came in the first game at The Banc, the 2-1 regular season opener win over North Carolina Courage, and Endo was tremendous in that game, with a goal, an assist and a terrific defensive performance with the team under siege for much of the match.

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

Jun Endo 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 6 495 0 1 5 3 0 0
Regular Season 22 22 1,925 1 2 18 10 0 0
Total 28 28 2,420 1 3 23 13 0 0

That one game ultimately represented half of Endo’s credited goals+assists in 2022, and for all of the good about her game: The energy, the willingness to defend, the fantastic skills on the ball, the ability to hit an inch-perfect ball in service — Endo’s production has to be considered rather disappointing for the season. I think some of that may be youth, some may be adjusting to a new league and environment, and some may be needing to do a lot of defending from the front-ish, as Angel City games were marked by wide open play and track meets, meaning her energy probably at times was sapped when it came to trying to get the ball in the net.

On top of that, Endo quietly became a versatile player in Angel City’s lineup. She mostly played alongside the left-handed flank, sometimes as a winger, sometimes more in midfield, and occasionally filling in at left back, too. But she also played on the right side sometimes, too. Basically, Freya Coombe could move Endo around as needed, and given the needs of the team, that was valuable. Did it always put Endo in her best spots to product? Maybe not, but again, it was probably some sacrifice for the good of the team.

In looking at Endo’s scouting report graph on FBref.com, compared to other wingers and attacking midfielders around the top eight leagues, Endo’s real strength in 2022 was her defense, where she was elite in tackles and interceptions.

FBref.com

Endo is under contract for 2023, and Angel City have her in their plans for next season, as they should. It seems likely she will not play every game for the Angels next year, as Japan will be going to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and it’s likely she’ll be on the plane. I think she will be a key player for Angel City next year when not on international duty, and it would be great to see her add to her goals/assists total next season. If she can balance the attack and defense a little bit more, hopefully with the help of the supporting cast at ACFC to unlock the goals overall much more in Year 2, than it could very well be a very good season for the player who was the energy room for Angel City in Year 1.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.