It started as an exciting day for Angel City. Forward Sydney Leroux was available for selection for the first time this year, and they had a chance to get back on track after being shut out in consecutive games, falling to ninth in the NWSL.
But in the end, Leroux did not even play, and Angel City was ripped to pieces, losing 4-1 to the OL Reign.
27 minutes into the game, forward Claire Emslie’s corner kick was punched into the net by Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce, giving her an Olimpico goal and Angel City the 1-0 lead. This was the first Olimpico in the NWSL since May of 2019.
“I’m not going to lie, I just tried to whip it front post, but yeah, it went in, and I’ll take it,” said Emslie on the broadcast.
But after this, not much went Angel City’s way. The Reign quickly responded as Elyse Bennett found space between defenders Sarah Gorden and Megan Reid and put a pass from Rapinoe in the back of the net 34 minutes into the game.
Then, the Reign scored three times in the second half through dazzling finishes, and Angel City lost their will to fight.
“We have the players on this team to win a game even though we’re down to come back and score goals to tie that game. But we just got in our own heads, and the fire wasn’t in our eyes,” said defender Ali Riley.
On multiple occasions, Angel City was sloppy with the ball, turning it over on their side of the field. Partially because of this, the Reign piled in pressure, attempting 25 shots (11 on goal), despite only possessing the ball 42.1% of the game.
Rapinoe led the Reign’s attack with three assists but also disrupted Angel City defensively. She made tackles to earn the ball on Angel City’s side of the field.
“[Rapinoe’s] got an incredible delivery. Her range of passing is exceptional, and I think if we give her enough time and space on the ball, she’s going to punish us, and that is what she did,” said head coach Freya Coombe.
Defender Jun Endo exited the game 54 minutes into the game because of an injury. Coombe did not have an update postgame, but The Equalizer’s Soccer’s Taylor Vincent reported that Endo left the field with crutches.
Endo, a typical midfielder or forward, played as a defender against the Reign because defenders Paige Nielsen and M.A. Vignola were out due to “COVID protocol.” She completed one tackle in her 54 minutes on the field.
Next, Angel City plays the Portland Thorns in a Wednesday NWSL Challenge Cup game with a chance to rebuild confidence.
“I’m thrilled that we have a game on Wednesday because I think that it is a chance for us to show what our identity really is and what we stand for,” Riley said.
After the game against the Thorns, Angel City returns home to play the Chicago Red Stars on June 5. The Red Stars are currently last in the NWSL standings, as they have only accumulated four points in their first eight games.