The first chapter in the newest NWSL rivalry was written this evening. For the first time during the regular season, Angel City FC were taking on fellow expansion side, San Diego Wave FC. These two teams met twice during the NWSL Challenge Cup in the run-up to the season, they split the points in their first-ever meeting, and Wave FC got the win the second time around, but this time, points that really mattered were on the line.
Newest Angel, Sydney Leroux, received her first start as a member of ACFC, as she looked to lead her side to what would honestly be an upset win at home. Much like last week, Angel City wasted no time in setting the tone. Some great passing between Jun Endo and Ali Riley, ended with Riley slipping one between the keeper’s legs for the early goal and the lead at home.
Despite a late flurry from San Diego to close out the half, ACFC did well to put bodies on the line in deference, and take the lead into the break. The start of the second half was all Angel City, with them coming closer and closer to extending the lead. Leroux was itching to score at home, with the best chance of the half called back for offside.
Unfortunately it was the visitors who would get the first goal in the second half. A brilliant pass from Katie Johnson found Kristen McNabb who only needed one chance to find the equalizer.
Newest arrival, Claire Emslie put in a great shift all match, and late in the second half she capped it off in style. Despite going down a player with Tyler Lussi seeing a second yellow card, Emslie found space and calmly took the lead late. The goal was her first for the team, and was the eventual match-winner.
The win brings all the joy to Los Angeles for a multitude of reasons. It's the first win over the rivals — yes they were short-handed but that excuse is voided when you're playing an even more short-handed ACFC side — but it also gives them three critical points to move them into a safer playoff position and off the bubble, for now. The team will hit the road to face off against a tough North Carolina Courage side that will undoubtedly be out for revenge. As for now, the sold-out Banc of California Stadium and it’s 22k plus were sent home buzzing after a massive win, and gritty performance for all the points.
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