If you thought the hype for Angel City was just about the excitement for something new, you’d be dead wrong. ACFC proved that tonight, coming close to a sellout — 21k tickets sold — for their first preseason match of the new year. Sure, it helps when the opposition is a massive International side like Club América, but any doubts over whether the same excitement would be there for year two were put to bed by the time the ball was kicked off.
As we mentioned ahead of this one, it was not at all about the score at the end, but about prepping for the season ahead. For fans, it was all about seeing players like Sarah Gorden make her return from injury. Or watching Alyssa Thompson and Mackenzie Pluck both make their Angel City FC debuts. While we didn't see Pluck this evening, Thompson wasted zero time introducing herself to fans, and the NWSL as a whole.
Just five minutes into the match Thompson got her first opportunity and took it. After getting the ball around midfield — and with three defenders on her — Thompson went into feast mode. First, she dribbled around two, used her speed to cut through the third coming to help, then made the goalkeeper miss for an easy tap in for her first-ever goal for Angel City FC. The reaction was about what you would expect, pandemonium. Despite many fans still making their way into the stadium, you felt the eruption reverberate throughout as the home side took the early lead.
¡Muy !#AngelCityFC goal presented by @cryptocom— Angel City FC (@weareangelcity) March 9, 2023
5’ | ALYSSA THOMPSON#Volemos | #ACFCvCAF | #AngelCityFC pic.twitter.com/Cbp29xTq5W
As you would expect after such a hot start for the home side, the visitors tightened up and both sides settled into the flow of the match. Angel City still did the better job of finding good scoring opportunities consistently, but as the first half began to wind down, a second goal was still there to be had. It wouldn't come for either side before the break, with Angel City going into the half with the one-goal lead.
It looked like Angel City had themselves another early goal to start a half, with birthday girl Claire Emslie appearing to double the lead shortly after the start of the second half. Unfortunately, we were treated to VAR in the NWSL for the first time, and the goal was called back. However in the 56th minute, it was Paige Nielsen who doubled the lead for real this time. The dreaded bouncing ball in the box fell to Nielsen who — albeit a bit sloppy — got enough on it to get past the keeper into the back of the net.
Despite being down two goals, América fans decided to make their presence felt with an early fireworks and flare show. The remainder of the match would be played under a very noticeable layer of smoke. Thompson came off to a standing ovation in the 75th minute, after putting on a very special performance in her Angel City FC debut. The future isn't just bright, it’s blinding, and Thompson early on has shown, she is HER.
Angel City didn't rest there though. With a handful of minutes left in the match, Simone Charley found space with the ball at her feet and took full advantage. Her goal was the third of the night, securing the massive win at home. Just because it went our way, doesn't mean the result now matters any more. It’s still meaningless, however the performance that accompanied the result, that was something to write about and we will do just that in the days ahead. For now, we can all bask amongst the clouds of what was a heavenly performance from the Angels. Hopefully tonight was the first, of many, such nights to come.
What do you think about the match? Leave a comment below!