Angel City’s draftees adjusting to competitive training environment

Angel City Football Club
Angel City added three players via the NWSL Draft. Those young talents are looking to carve out a role on the team in preseason.

Thousand Oaks, Calif. — Becoming a professional in the NWSL is difficult. Training sessions are filled with highly talented players who are more physical than those in the college ranks. Draftees also join a new team, many moving cities to their new homes. But, Angel Angel City’s 2024 draftees, Felicia Knox, Jessica Garziano, and Madison Curry, are trying to make the most of the transition. 

Off the field, they have fit in relatively seamlessly as their teammates have been welcoming. The draftees also quickly bonded as they discovered Los Angeles. They love the diversity of food options, including dan modern chinese, which they ate four times in a week.

“I have enjoyed every minute,” Knox said. “The girls are welcoming. And I have had a lot of fun with them. I’ve only been here for two weeks, but it feels like it’s been a lot longer with how close I have gotten [with the group].

On the field, the process has been more complex. Their teammates are stronger, faster, and wiser than the ones from college.

“The soccer is on a different level,” Curry said. “The pace is so much faster… They push you to the limit because it’s preseason, and they have to get it down quickly. You try to fit in for the first few weeks before you can start to be yourself.”

Knox was Angel City’s first pick in 2024, being selected in the third round. The young midfielder is a University of Alabama product, scoring seven goals and 20 assists in 27 games during her junior season.

Garziano is also a midfielder, coming from St. John’s University after being drafted in the fourth round. She led her team with ten goals and 11 assists in 2023, her fifth collegiate season.

Curry, a defender, is a Southern California native hailing from Santa Margarita Catholic High School. She moved across the United States to attend Princeton University, where she became a three-time first-team All-Ivy League before Angel City selected her in the fifth round. 

The players not only joined a physical and fast professional environment, but one that is exceptionally competitive. In Angel City’s training sessions under head coach Becki Tweed, every action matters, as players are awarded points based on them.

“We have a little point system going, so everything matters,” Knox said. “It’s competing in all aspects, within a passing pattern to game. So, we’re competing at everything we do.”

Adjusting to the level of play can be challenging for players but can lead to tremendous growth. Despite the transition period, the draftees appear more comfortable each day. They have learned from their teammates and become more familiar with playstyles at the highest level. 

“If you are surrounded by better players every day, and you get to play with them, it is going to make you better,” Knox said. “It’s also exciting to see they are willing to learn, give me information, and help me out throughout the entire process. And not just let me do my thing.”

Angel City Football Club

Knox possesses tremendous quality on the ball and does a solid job of passing the ball forward. Garziano has raw talent and has entered the Angel City environment ready to develop. Similarly, Curry is talented and can play multiple positions. 

“I’m excited to watch them all continue to grow,” Tweed said. “It’s going to be fun to see where they can end up.”

Knox, Garziano, and Curry are not guaranteed spots in Angel City’s plans. But they are working hard to carve out a role. 

“I’m excited to be here and help the team in any way I can,” Knox said.” Whatever role is given to me, I want to embrace it to my full capability. Also, to be a good teammate. This is a team sport, and even if things aren’t going our way, it’s ‘how can I help the team and be the best teammate?’”

“My goal would be to get any sort of playing time and develop as a person on and off the field and a player on and off the field,” Garziano said.

“Helping the team or whatever area I can [is my goal], whatever role I’m playing on the team,” Curry said. “It’s important for me to stay present and keep myself focused. And if I’m not on the field, helping those on the field be the best they can be.”

Angel City trains in Florida before returning to Southern California before their first preseason match. They will play expansion club, Bay FC, in the Coachella Valley Invitational on Feb. 24. There, the rookies could have a chance to showcase their talents and developments with hopes of growing their role.