As the final minutes of the game ticked off the clock, the Kansas City Current piled in pressure against Angel City. The Current were vying for an equalizing goal, but Angel City would not let that happen. Angel City’s defense stayed steady, fighting to win Ariel duels, clearing the ball out of their defensive third, and more.
Angel City’s defensive scrappiness in the final 24 minutes, plus stoppage time, helped them secure a 1-0 victory. Paige Nielsen led the group with ten clearances and 11 recoveries (according to FotMob), shutting down many of the Current’s chances.
Rookie goalkeeper Angelina Anderson also helped Angel City to a clean sheet as she made her first NWSL start. Regular starter DiDi Haracic missed the game due to “Covid protocol,” and interim head coach Becki Tweed gave Anderson the nod.
Anderson had only played in one Challenge Cup game against the Portland Thorns before starting against the Current. Versus the Thorns, she stopped a penalty and made a few key saves to help Angel City to a 2-1 victory.
“Whether we would have gone with Ang[elina Anderson] or with Britt[any Isenhour], we were prepared to go into Kansas City,” Tweed said. “We’ve been able to play them both this season, which has been brilliant because neither of them have not come off any minutes going into this game. And having the Challenge Cup to be able to use them both was really important to prepare us for moments like this.”
Against the Current, Anderson impressively made two saves to secure Angel City’s victory. Arguably, her most crucial stop came on a relatively open shot by Current forward Kirsten Hamilton 25 minutes into the game, where she put her fingertips on it to knock it off target.
“[Anderson] made a couple of saves that were just quality for her first game and for how young she is,” Tweed said. “Her maturity, the way that she steps into situations and she looks like she’s she’s been there, done it all. And she’s 22 years old.”
Anderson’s stops kept the scoreline level for Angel City before they capitalized in the second half. Defender Jasmyne Spencer gave Angel City the lead 66 minutes into the game when she fought multiple defenders to get the ball into the box. Then, she scored after her shot was deflected, giving Angel City a 1-0 lead.
Also helping Angel City to a win was a group of talented substitutes; they brought forward Alyssa Thompson, Jun Endo, Katie Johnson, Sydney Leroux, and midfielder Amandine Henry into the game off the bench.
Henry was solid in the 22 minutes she played, completing five of seven passes.
“You want people on your side that you’re one nil and you’re under a little bit of pressure, she can read the game, and she can organize, and she’s won things for a reason,” Tweed said, “It’s in her DNA, and it’s in her personality, and those are the players that we need at this point in the season.”
Becki Tweed remains undefeated as interim head coach through ten games (in all competitions) with the win over the Current. Angel City is now tied with OL Reign with 24 points for the last playoff position. However, Angel City is in seventh place due to the goal differential.
Despite being tied for a playoff position, Angel City and the Current were the first teams to play during the 18th match week. As the rest of the league plays, the playoff line will increase, moving Angel City off the sixth-place points number by Sunday night.
While carrying momentum, next, Angel City plays the Chicago Red Stars on Sept. 17 before returning home to face the Orlando Pride on Sept. 21. The next two games are a part of the final stretch where Angel City is treating each game like a “cup final,” according to Tweed.