Bay spoils Angel City’s season opener, 1-0

Henry Tran - The Sporting Tribune
Angel City spent the rest of the night on the front foot but ultimately fell short.

LOS ANGELES — Angel City expected Bay FC to try to take the match to them. But they did not. That style kept Angel City off the front foot long enough for Bay to capitalize and pick up a 1-0 victory.

“We thought they were going to come out at us, and they didn’t,” Tweed said. “They actually sat off us, but we played like they came at us. That mentality was a little bit naive of me and a little bit something that they didn’t do what we thought they were going to do.”

Bay’s press proved difficult for Angel City early on as they disrupted Angel City’s passing. Then, 17 minutes into the match, Angel City fell behind when defender M.A. Vignola turned the ball over on a backward pass. Moments later, forward Asisat Oshoala punished Vignola by scoring. 

Angel City spent the rest of the night on the front foot but ultimately fell short. Defenders Sarah Gorden and Paige Nielsen were solid, shutting down Oshoala in the second half. 

“Oshoala is a top, top nine in the world, and they really shut her down,” said defender and captain Ali Riley. “The goal we essentially gifted them. It is something that we know we have to be focused, in our build-out from goal kicks. Every single moment in the NWSL, you have to be switched on. But other than that, I think you saw some top defensive skill tonight from our center backs.”

Overall, Angel City led 1.79 to 1.03 in expected goals and attempted ten more shots. Still, they ended the night scoreless. One driving force in their attack was 17-year-old Kennedy Fuller, who started the match and stood out. She looked poised in the midfield despite nerves and helped create a few chances. Fuller played before a sold-out crowd of 22,000 fans at BMO Stadium. 

“It was awesome,” Fuller said. “Being able to play with that group of girls was the best way I could have done it. Being able to start it off at a place like BMO, with the incredible fans that they have, was awesome.”

Henry Tran

Seven minutes into the match, Fuller dispossessed Bay and played a well-placed ball to Alyssa Thompson, who made a run into the attacking third. Moments later, Fuller played a cross towards forward Sydney Leroux in a dangerous position.

35 minutes into the match, Fuller plays an excellent cross into an open midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard. However, Bay goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx saved her shot. 

Proulx was a key player for Bay, keeping a clean sheet. Angel City midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard challenged her a few times, including a shot towards the bottom corner of the net in the 50th minute, but Proulx dealt with her chances nicely.

Arguably, Angel City’s closest opportunity came in second-half stoppage time. Forward Messiah Bright displayed a burst of pace and played a ball to Leroux in front of the net. But this time, Bay defender Caprice Dydasco cleared it off the goal line. 

Another notable moment came 78 minutes into the match when defender Merritt Mathias replaced Ali Riley. The match was her Angel City debut and return from an injury that kept her out for 470 days.

“It’s everything; it was an emotional moment,” Mathias said. “I tried to take it all in, go out there and do the thing that I love, do it to the best of my ability, and put my little spin on it. I’m really proud of it. I’m proud of myself.”

Gisele Thompson, Bright, and Dougherty Howard also made their Angel City debuts. The match was also Thompson’s first professional appearance. 

Henry Tran

Despite the loss, tweed is confident in the group and expects them to build on it. Next, they play the Orlando Pride on Friday with a chance to get into the win column for the first time in 2024. 

“We came out not knowing where we were going to be, and as we built into it, we saw how much more confident we got. Now I walk away feeling like we can be really good,” Tweed said.