Angel City believes they have unfinished business in 2024

Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
Angel City made the playoffs in 2023. But in 2024, they want more. And they took their first step towards that goal by making Becki Tweed their permanent head coach.

LOS ANGELES — Angel City’s 2023 season was a first for many occurrences. They made the playoffs for the first time in club history, appointed an interim head coach, and more. But the team came to each stop prepared, whether or not the result went their way. Much of that was because of their (then) interim head coach, Becki Tweed.

Tweed was tasked with righting the ship on a talented club that had failed to put it together on the field. Angel City sat 11th in the NWSL, with playoffs far out of reach, when Tweed took the interim head coaching role after the club fired head coach Freya Coombe. Then, everything changed.

Training sessions became more competitive. Tweed added increased structure and expectations, ensuring her players knew where they could contribute. She gave players simple and clear objectives for games, making self-reflection and evaluation easier. Some players felt they could express themselves better on the field as the standards rose.

“Giving them a game plan that they can look at, and it’s not overwhelming,” Tweed said. “It’s okay. Here’s where I’m playing. Here’s my objective. I know if I’ve achieved my objective because it’s so visually clear, it makes sense.” 

Tweed ensured every player felt valued, even those who rarely made the match-day squad. She regularly praised their contributions, citing their efforts in training sessions. Tweed also thanked her technical staff often, especially head of goalkeeping Daniel Ball and assistant coach Eleri Earnshaw.

Then, Angel City started winning. They defeated their rivals, the San Diego Wave, in Tweed’s first match as head coach. They remained undefeated through the next seven matches as the narrative shifted from ‘the success is coming from a head coaching boost’ to ‘Angel City is a top team.’ Still, as Decision Day began, they were on the outside looking in.

Angel City was up against the No. 1 team in the NWSL, the Portland Thorns, with playoff hopes on the line. Win, and there was a solid chance they were in. Lose, and they were out. Quickly, it became evident the former would be the outcome as Angel City piled in five goals, beating the Thorns 5-1. They scored spectacular goals, including a bicycle kick from forward Sydney Leroux that made SportsCenter Top Ten. It was arguably their best performance of the season, and it came when they needed it. 

Countless times in pressure moments, the Tweed-led Angel City team came through. She led the club to their first playoff appearance, with the team only losing once in 11 games to finish the season. But they lost to OL Reign in the first round of the playoffs. Tweed’s second half of the season efforts led her to be voted one of three NWSL Coach of the Year finalists, along with San Diego Wave’s Casey Stoney and Gotham FC’s Juan Carlos Amorós. Whether or not she wins the award, she will not have to worry about the interim tag anymore as she was named permanent head coach, Angel City announced on Thursday.

Tweed will have an entire offseason to evaluate her strengths and areas of improvement from her first (half a) year as Angel City’s head coach to prepare for 2024. The team has NWSL Championship aspirations, believing they have “unfinished business” after losing in the playoffs.

“I’m really proud to be staying with Angel City,” Tweed said. “I am most excited to have the opportunity to pick up where we left off. We aren’t starting over. We are continuing to build and have unfinished business. We have created a strong foundation, and now our expectations are higher. Serving as the head coach of Angel City is a one-of-a-kind opportunity because of what the club stands for and what it brings to women’s sports globally. The on-field product is as important to us as what we are building off the field, and as a squad, we are committed to results moving forward.”

To begin working towards winning an NWSL Championship in 2024, Tweed is evaluating herself as a coach. Angel City selected her out of a field of 52 candidates, but she knows no coach is perfect and is striving to be her best self. She is considering areas during and outside matches to enhance.

“Still working on it,” said Tweed about the reflection process. “I’m still processing everything that’s going on. I did watch the game [the playoff game against the Reign] back; it took me a while, but I did. There’s just so much space for us to grow. We look at one, we played the last 12 games of the season like they were playoff games. But ultimately, when you get there, it is the playoffs. And this moment just fuels us for more. There’s things that we can look back on, and you play a playoff game, and you have to be brave. You have to say, ‘this is the moment for us,’ and I look back at myself, and some of the things I can reflect on from that, and I know that I have space to grow, but again, it’s a box that we’ve checked: playoff game, done. Now, next year, we grow from it.”

The front office will play a significant role during the offseason as well. General Manager Angela Hucles Mangano has to navigate free agency, an expansion draft, and a college draft to construct their 2024 roster. Hucles Mangano plans to build around the team they had in 2023, adding depth to the group.

“They have proven that they can do a lot with the group that we currently have,” Hucles Mangano said. “The more that you are able to have a team play together, know and understand what their movements are like, what they are thinking, the better the performances ultimately will be. Right now, it’s more about adding depth versus really making a lot of changes to our roster.”

Angel City still has months before some major offseason events occur. But Tweed and much of the team are already looking towards 2024. Some, like Hucles Mangano, have a more imminent role. Others, like the players, will have more time before coming together on the training ground, likely in Jan. But as each unfolds, Angel City is taking a step towards their goal of winning the championship.