LOS ANGELES — Becki Tweed began undefeated in her first five games as Angel City’s interim head coach. And the heavy desire to win has marked such time. Still, she was “disappointed” that her team did not win all five of those games (two draws).
So after Angel City beat the Portland Thorns, 2-1, on Saturday, Tweed was pleased, but pointed out areas they can improve.
“I still think we have areas of improvement where we did actually create some opportunities for Portland in the last few minutes that we could have avoided,” she said.
But Tweed also mentioned how they were already improving, including their level of bravery as she praised midfielder Savannah McCaskill.
McCaskill was the catalyst of Angel City’s attack agains the Thorns, scoring both of Angel City’s goals in the win. And she got them on the board early.
Nine minutes into the game, defender Jasmyne Spencer found Savannah McCaskill on a well-placed cross in the middle of the box, and McCaskill headed it in. 1-0.
Soon after, 18 minutes into the game, defender Paige Nielsen crossed it in to McCaskill, whose header was saved for a corner kick. Still, on the chance, McCaskill found open space in the box in a dangerous position.
Then, 47 minutes into the game, McCaskill curled in a free kick to get herself her second goal before being substituted off nine minutes later.
“We wanted to play with bravery tonight. We had to come out, be brave tonight, and show who we want to be as a soccer team, and really find our momentum in the attacking third. That’s what we asked Savannah [McCaskill] to do, and she did a brilliant job,” Tweed said.
McCaskill’s brace was Angel City’s first NWSL Challenge Cup brace, per NWSL Communications. She leads Angel City in all-time goals in all competitions, cup games, and regular season games.
“I have made it a goal of mine, no pun intended, to put myself in situations to score more goals over the past two years and put myself in situations where I’m closer to the goal, creating goals, and scoring goals,” McCaskill said.
Helping preserve the lead built by McCaskill’s two goals was goalkeeper Angelina Anderson, who made her NWSL debut. She was drafted in the third round of the 2023 NWSL Draft.
Anderson made seven saves, including one on a penalty kick 82 minutes into the game. Nielsen conceded the penalty kick, but Anderson shut down the Thorns’ attempt. Then, shortly after, she dove to stop a shot towards the bottom corner of the goal, preserving Angel City’s 2-1 lead.
“You get to a stage as a goalkeeper where you have to find out if you’re ready or not. Angelina proved to the world why she’s a professional goalkeeper now,” Tweed said.
Anderson also credited her back line, who helped her hold the Thorns to one goal. Spencer led the back four (and team) with tackles (three).
“My defense came up big time tonight,” Anderson said. “Their positioning on the field makes it really predictable sometimes for me to make a big save. That was major and helped me out.”
Also notable was that midfielder Amandine Henry was included in the game-day squad on the bench, but she did not play. Angel City announced she signed her on June 1 and she began training with the team last week.
“She’s not injured; it’s about getting her to game fitness and finding the right moment to make her debut,” Tweed said.
Angel City will build on its momentum from six undefeated games as Henry integrates with the team. McCaskill hopes they can continue to have healthy competition in training and grow their chemistry.
“We’ve made strides in the past month and a half. Training has been competitive, and that’s where it starts. The mindset and the standards have been there, day in and day out. Everyone’s showing up to get better collectively, and that’s showing now in the results that we’re getting in the performances that we’re putting out on the field,” McCaskill said.
“We just have to continue it. The confidence is coming from the fact that we’re doing it every single day in training, and it’s correlating on the field. It’s about executing in games like tonight when things weren’t always 100 percent there. We were a little sloppy at times. We allowed them to get momentum back into the game, but we still grinded out results, and that’s really important.”
“The more that we can build on that, the more confidence that we have, the more that we can play together, is also building on the confidence. The relationships, especially in our offense, are starting to get better. That’s where scoring our goals is coming from. We just have to continue to put in the work every single day. The confidence will continue to grow, and the results will come.”
Credit: Angel City Football Club
Angel City’s next chance to continue building momentum comes against the San Diego Wave on August 5 before returning to regular season action on August 19 against Racing Louisville.