Julie Ertz debuts for Angel City as San Diego Wave surge to victory

Credit: Angel City Football Club
Angel City lost to their rivals, the Wave, but they welcomed their latest addition to the squad in the process.

LOS ANGELES — “Derby Day” for Angel City and the San Diego Wave is always special. Large crowds (often sellouts), smoke in the air, and passion from the fans create an exciting atmosphere. And when the ball is kicked off, the stadium is always buzzing. 

But this time, the Angel City fans were even more excited. And that was because midfielder Julie Ertz was starting the game. After being signed earlier this week, the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) star was making her Angel City debut.

Ertz’s first appearance came after nearly two years after she last played in the NWSL, and she grew into the game against the Wave. 

Despite receiving roars from the crowd when she first touched the ball, she turned the ball over while attempting a long pass moments later. However, rather than being discouraged, she stayed calm and made her presence felt in the middle of the field. 

Ertz won headers and played sound defense, helping relieve pressure from her teammates in the 72 minutes she played.

“[Ertz] had a really good presence on the ball and looked calm under pressure, which translated to the rest of the team,” Angel City head coach Coombe said. “They were a lot calmer on the ball, so even when pressed, she was able to deal with pressure really well and play out of it calmly. Having her leadership in the center to direct is huge for us.”

Ertz in her debut for Angel City (credit: Angel City Football Club)

With Ertz’s presence, Angel City found themselves executing their game plan. They were making runs into the box and creating scoring chances.

Forward Alyssa Thompson was the catalyst of many of these runs. She made multiple runs into the box but failed to find outlets for her crosses. Then, 38 minutes into the game, Thompson chased down a pass from defender MA. Vignola, and crossed it into the box to forward Katie Johnson. Despite the close scoring opportunity, Johnson’s shot was deflected. 

Moments like these were regular for Angel City as they created scoring chances but struggled to make a final touch towards the goal. Thompson regularly looked for outlets, but her teammates failed to support her with runs. 

Then, after 70 minutes of mostly Angel City pressure, the Wave flipped the script. They began a counterattack. Then, forward Sofia Jakobsson cut back against Vignola and put the ball in the back of the net. 

After Jakobsson was substituted in for forward Amirah Ali at halftime, she gave the Wave the lead. 

Shortly after, 75 minutes into the game, another substitute came through for the Wave. After entering for midfielder Jaedyn Shaw, forward Makenzy Doniak deflected a shot off Angel City defender Sarah Gorden into the net.

“I thought Sofia [Jakobsson] could come on and bring us a little bit of energy and ability to run at players and get the ball and get us up the pitch,” said Wave head coach Casey Stoney. “And Mackenzy [Doniak], I thought in that moment there were pockets on both sides of their midfield that she could utilize and get in spaces. I needed us to keep the ball better. We did not keep the ball well, and Mackenzy [Doniak] keeps the ball really really well for us. I think she enabled us to get up the pitch, and also she got a goal.”

The game finished as a 2-0 victory for the Wave. Coombe was content with most of her team’s performance despite the loss. 

“We were disciplined and played for the longest period of time this season in terms of consistency of our performance,” Coombe said. “Ultimately, some of the statistics reflect that we weren’t clinical enough in the final third. In terms of the shots we were able to create that were on target it just wasn’t enough.”

Angel City will look to build on the positives from the defeat to win their upcoming games. Their first opportunity will come against the Portland Thorns on Saturday on the road. On the contrary, the Wave will look to continue building momentum when they return home to face the Orlando Pride on Saturday.