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Them’s the breaks: San Diego Wave FC 1, Angel City FC 0

Angel City had chances but leave Snapdragon Stadium with no points.

NWSL: Angel City FC at San Diego Wave FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in four days, Angel City FC went on the road, played hard on the defensive end, but a single breakdown and a lack of finishing led to a 1-0 loss, this one against San Diego Wave FC in the Chanclasico on Saturday.

This game had even higher stakes for Angel City, not only being another key game in the regular season for their playoff hopes, or a rivalry clash against their fellow Southern California foe, but because it was the opener of San Diego’s new venue, Snapdragon Stadium, where a league record was broken in terms of all-time attendance at an NWSL game. But ACFC could not play spoilers on the night, as a 2nd-half penalty attempt was saved and Freya Coombe’s outfit came away on the losing end once more.

With Tyler Lussi suspended, Jasmyne Spencer got the nod at right back for Angel City and it was otherwise the same group that started in Wednesday’s game at North Carolina Courage.

San Diego unsurprisingly held the ball a lot in the early minutes, but Angel City were up for the task to hold them off. In particular, they were effective in disrupting Wave FC’s distribution out of the back by pressing hard.

But the home side drew first blood, when Jaedyn Shaw headed in a cross from Sofia Jakobsson in the 31st minute to give San Diego the 1-0 lead.

Angel City tried to find a quick answer, with Jun Endo’s shot forcing a save from San Diego GK Kailen Sheridan. Just before halftime, a good buildup from ACFC led to Ali Riley hitting a nice cross, but Claire Emslie could only contest the header with a defender, and it sailed over the goal.

The teams went into the break with Wave FC leading 1-0, Angel City actually edging in total shots, but with only two on target, none really giving San Diego a lot of trouble.

The 2nd half began in much the same way as the 1st, with both teams taking turns in possession but San Diego having more attacking intent overall. Angel City’s first change came in the 57th minute, when Simone Charley entered the fray for Ali Riley, as Angel City again sought to tip the balance towards attack as they chased the game.

Miri Taylor then entered the game in the 72nd minute, replacing Cari Roccaro.

Moments later, Emslie drew a penalty, after getting fouled by Christen Westphal, and Savannah McCaskill stepped up to the mark, but Sheridan saved the penalty and the rebound attempt to hold Angel City off.

No doubt about it, it’s a bitter pill for Angel City, who really probably deserved a split of the points, if not necessarily a win, but they just didn’t have that deadly finishing to really push San Diego, and that penalty save was killer. I think they can take solace in how well they are playing defensively for a sustained run, in managing this occasion and staying competitive throughout, and they are still not out of the playoff race, only sitting two points below the line at present. But they have work to do, and time is running out to get a postseason berth, so they need to get the wins ASAP.

Angel City FC have another short rest before the next fixture, when they’ll host the Washington Spirit on Wednesday at The Banc. ACFC may have beaten the Spirit 1-0 in Washington earlier this season, but they have awakened recently and will be a tough opponent for the home side.

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