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Angel City FC: Expansion’s new standard

Angel City FC are closing in on first record for an expansion side, as they set new standards in NWSL.

San Diego Wave FC v Angel City FC Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images for Angel City FC

Success isn't a straight line. Hell, most of the time it isn't a curved route either. It’s more a point. A point set by a person, or in this case an organization, that is reached through a journey subjective to those who embark upon it. Success isn’t always cemented either. Meaning, one person’s success may not equate to another, and so on. Again, in this case, we are talking an organization, namely, your Angel City FC. See, in football, the ultimate success is league championships, however, dependent on where you are in your football journey, success can come in a multitude of ways.

For an expansion side in the NWSL, success is very different than just championships, especially in year one. Talking expansion in the NWSL can be slightly complicated, as with anything in this league. While there have been plenty of relocation, rebranding, moving and shaking, most of those teams from the original league had rosters carry over and while starting fresh, didn't have to field an entirely new team.

Which is why when discussing ‘true’ expansion, the list isn't terribly long. There are the Houston Dash and Orlando Pride of the first expansion efforts in 2014-2016. Then, we have the current expansion era where things can change fast. 2021 saw the arrival of Racing Louisville, while 2022 saw the debuts of not one, but two sides, in San Diego Wave FC and Angel City FC. In the past, expansion sides were just happy to be here. The best effort from an expansion side to date has been last year’s Racing Louisville. While they finished second to last in the standings, they tallied an expansion record 22 points.

Which brings us back to success. Before the season began, when the stars aligned and seemingly lined up, to play in Los Angeles, I am sure most would have told you playoffs while a slight expectation, would still mark a wildly successful season. More than anything, those around the club wanted to build a foundation not just for accomplishing greatness on the pitch, but a foundation to be a force for good in the LA community off the pitch. Not just for 2022, but forever.

As is the case in sports, the road from point A to point B isn't linear, or curved, but can often times be cruel. Having to navigate injuries on top of being the new kids that everyone wants to either be, or beat, the team has faced plenty adversity already. Still, when asking those within the club, success to them is about setting new standards. Starting with most points by an expansion franchise. Granted, barring a miraculous turn of events, it’s likely San Diego Wave will finish their incredible season with that record as the current leaders, however for Angel City, success isn't based off others. For them, that 22 points in a season mark is significant. To be considered better than the standard before, as an expansion side, is huge.

ACFC currently sit just outside the playoff line, but are tied on points (17) with OL Reign, and only five points out of first in a very close table. The team has 11 matches left, a possible 33 points up for grabs so to say there is plenty of football left is a huge understatement. However, they only need six more points to break the 22 point mark set by previous expansion side, Racing Louisville.

A chance to do on the pitch, what they've so far been able to do off it, set the new standard. Whether it’s scheduling friendlies to bridge the gap between two of the fastest growing leagues in the world, or drawing an average of 17,000-plus for home matches in an inaugural season. As we mentioned, playoffs out aren't of the question either, there's still plenty of time to build on an already incredibly successful foundation.

What do you think of the season so far? Leave a comment below!