Angel City has not lost in their last eight games (in all competitions), but they took a loss in the standings on Saturday.
Angel City played Racing Louisville as they sat at No. 11 in the NWSL standings. Even though they were second to last entering the matchup, they had the chance to move to seventh place with a win.
And 66 minutes into the game, it seemed like they would do so as midfielder Savannah McCaskill found Katie Johnson, who waited and found space in the box before firing the ball into the top corner of the goal. Forward Scarlett Camberos made a well-placed pass to McCaskill in the build-up to the goal.
Johnson was substituted into the game 62 minutes into it and made a significant impact quickly with the goal.
“Scarlett won the ball down the line and drove it down the line, which she’s really good at. Savannah [McCaskill] is great at pulling and getting into the attack as a 10. She got on the ball and played me early. I actually took a step too far, but it opened up a window for me, and I was able to find the upper corner,” Johnson said.
However, Louisville substitute and forward Kisten Davis scored a header to tie the game in the 80th minute. Her shot hit goalkeeper DiDi Haracic’s hand but ended in the back of the net.
The two teams would split the points with a final score of 1-1 after Davis’ equalizer, and Angel City moved to tenth in the NWSL with the draw. But because the San Diego Wave beat Gotham FC, Angel City’s four-point gap to a playoff position became six.
Midfielder Savannah McCaskill was Angel City’s catalyst on offense. She took six shots and assisted their only goal in the 73 minutes she played. She was accurate with her strikes while distributing them to her teammates, too.
Forward Alyssa Thompson and defender Ali Riley missed time with Angel City while they were on international duty during the 2023 World Cup; Thompson played for the United States, while Riley played for New Zealand.
Riley and Thompson returned and started the game against Louisville
Thompson was dangerous in the attack early on with active runs. She created chances as she moved toward the end line. However, Louisville did a solid job of keeping her wide, forcing her to cross the ball toward the center of the box rather than take a shot on goal.
“Anytime Alyssa gets him behind, or anytime she checks off the line, you have to respect our pace, and you have to respect her quality on the ball.” head coach Becki Tweed said.
Despite the strong performance, Thompson was taken out of the game at halftime.
“When players return from the World Cup, we have to look at them carefully,” Tweed said. “Alyssa is 18-years-old, has been away for six weeks and her minutes were limited at the World Cup. We are making sure her well being is good and she’s in a good space, which is really important. She was really impactful for 45 minutes tonight.”
The other World Cup returnee, Riley, was solid defensively and played the entire game. She won all three of her attempted tackles, made a clearance, and made four recoveries, according to FotMob.
”We changed shape a little bit in the first half, so we asked something a little bit different of Ali [Riley], and it was a lot of work, and she put the work in. Incredible leader that we’ve missed on and off the field, really good to have a back,” Tweed said.
Also making a return was defender M.A. Vignola returned to play after last playing on July 2 against NJ/NY Gotham FC due to a left ankle injury. She played 79 minutes against Louisville and completed 76% of her 33 passes. She also blocked one shot, made one clearance, and made four recoveries.
Alongside Vignola on defense was Sarah Gorden, who impressed to help Angel City keep an even scoreline. She completed 37 of the 39 passes she attempted. Defensively, she made 11 recoveries, four clearances, and two blocks.
Saturday’s game also featured a record-breaking crowd of 10,214 fans for Louisville at home. Despite the large attendance, Tweed said the crowd did not impact Angel City much because they are used to it; they sells out 22,000 tickets for their home games at BMO Stadium every year. However, she also mentioned how large crowds are beneficial to the growth of the NWSL.
Credit: EM Dash-USA TODAY Sports
Next, Angel City returns home to play OL Reign on Aug. 27. Six games remain for Angel City to make up the gap between them and the sixth place.