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Angel City FC tune up for season with International friendly vs. Club América

An international matchup to celebrate International Women's Day.

NWSL: Angel City FC Training Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

While not as intense and vigorous as the months and weeks leading up to the first-ever match, the hype around the start of Angel City FC’s season two is real. Especially when you consider fans and the club alike are feeling some type of way over how last season went for them. Despite all the obstacles, injuries, and normal settling into the NWSL as a new club, this team still found themselves at the doorstep of the postseason, coming up just four points short of sneaking in. Now, the team comes in healthier and with far more experience. Not to mention an attitude of wanting to show the world what they are truly capable of.

Which is what makes Wednesday’s preseason friendly so damn exciting. There are players who we have yet to see in an ACFC kit ready to take the pitch for the first time ever, players returning from long-term injury who we only saw briefly, and a few youngsters who've already gotten buzz surrounding their play. Not to mention we get to see all that, against another Liga MX Femenil powerhouse in Club América (7:30 pm PT, BMO Stadium).

This is proper preseason footy. No closed-door matches in empty stadiums with no fans or media to witness. No extremely limited updates on a dying social media platform. We get two teams, center stage Los Angeles, on a Wednesday night, ready to put on a spectacle ahead of the 2023 season.

Unbalanced matchup

The important thing to remember going into this evening, is that while this is a preseason match for Angel City, Club América are fully in the midst of their season. Currently sitting third in the Clausura standings, they had their most recent match just two days ago. Which means one team will look like a team ready for competitive action and as close to mid-season form as you'll get, while the other side will almost definitely look like they haven't kicked a ball in months.

Just saying, don't get too worried should ACFC come out flat, or end up on the wrong end of a rout. Tonight — as has been said before about this team during International matchups — is less about the result and far more about finally seeing what this team could be capable of. A chance to finally see the majority of this roster play together, and do so relatively healthy! Of course, should the team sneak away with a win that would be most pleasing.

The Return

There is one player who will undoubtedly be the center of attention this evening. A player that fans were ecstatic to see signed ahead of the team’s inaugural season, and devastated to see go down with a season-ending injury before even playing for the club. That player is Sarah Gorden. The defender was brought on as the centerpiece to the defense for last year, but a preseason injury left her out for the entirety of 2022. Now, she is healthy, and ready to make her Angel City FC debut tonight. I know a ton of fans ready to blow the top off BMO when her name is introduced.

Christen Press is the other player fans are anxious to see out there again after suffering a season-ending injury just eight matches into 2022. Unfortunately, she will likely be held out for the foreseeable future as the team, rightfully so, treats her rehab with extreme caution. As much as we would all love to see her tonight, I think I speak for everyone when I say we would much rather see her healthy for entire season, and not rushed back for an International Friendly, no matter how much fun it would be.

Glimpse of the future

Tonight is all about shaking off the rust and getting an early sense of what the right tactics for this squad will be. One of the biggest criticisms last season for Angel City FC head coach Freya Coombe was the lack of rotation. It felt like players either saw plenty of match time or got real familiar with the bench. This season, but tonight especially, we should most definitely expect to see a hefty amount of rotation not just to keep veterans healthy, but also to get a look at what the future holds. First-overall draft pick Alyssa Thompson, and recent undrafted signing from Duke Mackenzie Pluck are looking to impress in their first action at the professional level.

With a majority of the roster healthy, we could also get a glimpse at possible tactical and formational changes made from last season. It is no secret the original plan for 2022 was to deploy some form of 3-back system, however with the injury to planned centerpiece Gorden, that plan was put aside. Now, the team have a returning Gorden as well as a few defenders who impressed last season, so it’s curious if we remain with four on the backline, or indeed make the move to three at the back. It’s also important to consider the team's lack of depth at the midfield position, which most definitely has to be taken into account. That’s what makes nights like tonight so much fun! While we wont have all the answers after the match tonight, we will know a lot more as we prepare for year two of Angel City. Can’t wait to see you all there as we kickoff another year of NWSL footy in Los Angeles.

Excited for the start of 2023? Thoughts on how the season goes? Leave a comment below!