Since the day it was announced, Copa Angelina was a match many had circled on their calendars, and despite a heatwave currently gripping all of Los Angeles, plenty filled Banc of California Stadium to see Angel City FC take on the Mexican National Team in an historic friendly match. The match not only provided a great night of action, but marked the beginning of what is hopefully a long, beautiful relationship between NWSL and Liga MX Femenil/ Mexico National.
Much like the match against Tigres UANL, this match was far less about any result at the end of 90 minutes, and more about the occasion. More importantly, tonight was the opening of what many, ourselves included, hope are the floodgates that lead us to the ocean of possibilities that is a Women's Club World Cup. A chance to see the best teams from across the world match up to see who truly is the world's best. That, unfortunately, is still a ways away, but tonight was the start of that agenda, and it was a great start to say the least.
The first half of the match ended with neither side finding the back of the net, but not without effort. Both teams had a couple really close looks that were either saved by great keeping efforts, or stopped by solid defense. The atmosphere was, as always, perfect. Though, unlike when Tigres visited The Banc, you could sense the torn feelings many had. Every Mexico chance was met with ovations, as was every Angel City chance. Chants of ‘Mexico’ rang out throughout the stadium at times, and green filled sections in swarms. This was definitely the atmosphere you get when you host a family bbq and a pick-up game breaks out. We all have our favorites we want to see do well, but at the end of the day it’s all love for everyone, and the important part is having fun and coming out the match healthy.
As the second half progressed it was entertaining to watch a once split crowd slowly start to turn Angel City into visitors in their own stadium. The first goal of the night came in the 70th minute and in a cruel twist, came via Own Goal. After putting together a stack of incredible saves, Brittany Isenhour added another on a free kick that rebounded right off her defender and trickled into the net for the own goal to give Mexico the lead.
For a match that was providing a ton of entertainment and memorable moments, it’s bittersweet the first goal of Copa Angelina comes in such a gutting fashion, but such is sport. It didn't take much longer after the opener before Mexico put their stamp on proceedings, slotting a goal past Isenhour themselves to double their lead late.
The final whistle blew and the inaugural Copa Angelina was handed to the Mexican National Team. No surprise, given the obstacles ACFC has faced this season, and given they were welcoming a Mexico side hell-bent on making a statement and getting back to winning ways after massive changes within the Federation. However, as we said before, tonight wasn't about the result.
Tonight was about once again proving Women's soccer is here to stay. With 17,721 in attendance, on Labor Day, in Los Angeles, during the worst recorded heatwave in modern history, Angel City and LA have once again proven if you bring it, everyone will come. Copa Angelina 2023 has already been announced and the game will only continue to grow as more NWSL sides host friendlies with other clubs across the world. As for ACFC, they are still very much in the mix for a spot in the NWSL playoffs, so this season is far from over. They will travel to face Houston Dash next weekend when NWSL regular season action continues. As for tonight, you know we will have plenty more words on what was, despite the result, another magical and successful night for the expansion team in Los Angeles.
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