Angel City make history despite loss to Washington

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Angel City make history despite a 4-2 loss to Washington Spirit, as the Thompson sisters start and Sydney Leroux scores historic goal.

Despite a 4-2 loss to a formidable Washington Spirit on Saturday night, Angel City FC made history. Veteran of the game, Sydney Leroux, the only Angel City player to score during the match, became the first to score at least 5 goals for 5 different clubs in the league. NWSL’s Los Angeles-based team was the first ever to have two sisters, Alyssa and Gisele Thompson, in their starting lineup – it was Gisele’s first start in the league. “She was dynamic in the attacking third,” head coach Becki Tweed said. “A first start in the NWSL is never easy, especially away to the Washington Spirit against Trinity Rodman. Those are all boxes she checked tonight in her career, and her performance was the reason that she started the game. For her first performance, as an eighteen year old, it was incredible.”

All the goals were scored in a stunning first half that tied the league record (6). The action began with a back and forth sequence, starting with a Trinity Rodman special off a beautiful passing sequence between Ashley Hatch and Ouleymata Sarr in the 8th minute. But Angel City were gifted an equalizer in the 20th minute by forcing an own-goal from Spirit defender Annaïg Butel.

Things continued to lift for Angel City two minutes later, when Claire Emslie sent a free kick towards a ready Sydney Leroux who scored her 44th regular season goal off the resulting header that also made her the only player to reach at least 5 goals for 5 different clubs.

Unfortunately, the rest of the first half rained mayhem on Angel City, who were struggling to find their footing and finish on the slippery wet grass on the rainy Saturday. Across a six minute stretch, Washington laid waste to Angel City’s comeback. First, as the USWNT’s Rodman’s finesse supplied the equalizer for the home team and bagged herself a brace. Next, in a sequence between the clubs worthy of a tennis table tournament that ended with Casey Kruger getting the leading goal in the 34th minute. And, lastly, off a breakaway for Croix Bethune who sent the ball to Sarr who was able to score, leaving the scoreline at 4-2 as the halftime whistle blew. Four goals is the most Angel City have ever permitted in a single half. “We had a nine minute spell where we lost focus,” Tweed deadpanned.

Angel City was unable to finish on any more chances through the next half, despite sending substitutions in after 70 minutes of play, and having plenty of opportunities to catch up. The barrier to win was already too high. “Anytime you give up four goals it’s a tall task. It came up from our inability to stop them in transition.” Jasmyne Spencer declared afterwards. “And it’s something that we’ll have to tighten up moving forward. We stifled most of their attacks, except for those three moments that they hurt us in transition and they are clinical finishers.”

Angel City, currently in 9th place in the standings, have a short turnaround to their next match, a crucial home bout on May 23rd against their Southern California rival, San Diego Wave, who sit just a point ahead in the final playoffs spot. Kickoff at BMO Stadium is scheduled for 7pm Pacific Time. “It’s important in these times to not dwell on anything that’s happened. Now we need to go back to LA with open minds, bring it together as a team, and focus on the next one ahead.” MA Vignola, who returned from injury in tonight’s action, said afterwards. “Because this is a big one coming up, and we want to get all the points possible at home.”

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