Mistakes cost Angel City in 4-2 loss to the Current

Kylie Graham-USA TODAY Sports
Angel City remained winless through three matches.

Saturday was not Angel City’s day. The Current dominated in transition and capitalized on Angel City’s mistakes, resulting in a 4-2 loss.

Angel City started poorly, failing to keep the ball and find pockets. The Current punished them quickly. They first scored in the sixth minute when forward Temwa Chawinga and midfielder Vanessa DiBernado linked up. DiBernado produced a shot that was too much for goalkeeper Angelina Anderson to handle.

The Current kept piling on pressure, forcing defender Paige Nielsen to make an excellent clearance to stop a shot on target in the 27th minute. But then again, they added another goal before halftime as forward Alexa Spaanstra put away a nicely played ball from DiBernardo, doubling their lead.

Angel City came out of halftime looking more threatening. In the 50th minute, Claire Emslie delivered a ball to Sydney Leroux, who headed it for a goal to bring Angel City within one goal (2-1). 

But moments later, Anderson turned a ball over, and Chawinga capitalized. Poor distribution resulted in the Current reestablishing their two-goal lead (3-1).

“She’s strong, fast, technical, smart. She’s kind of got it all,” said defender Sarah Gorden about Chawinga. “We knew it was going to be a challenge. And we knew that containing her was going to be difficult. That is another reason why we wanted to stop their attacking transition because her in space is very difficult to defend. She’s a great player. Kudos to her. She had a great game.”

Despite a costly error, set pieces were Angel City’s best friend as they bounced back in the 79th minute. Rookie defender Madison Curry put away a loose ball in the box to pull a goal back (3-2). 

“In the moment, it was a little bit scary, like, ‘just don’t miss this,’” Curry said. “But Ali [Riley] did a great job of doing her part. And it was just up to me to get the ball in the back of the net. At the end of the day, it’s just about our will and our one goal at a time mentality, and I just did what I could.”

Curry made her first start at right back as defenders Merritt Mathias, Gisele Thompson, and Merritt Mathias were unavailable for selection. She made the most of the difficult night, winning four of five duels and making five recoveries, five clearances, and four interceptions.

“When you sign players, their expectation is that they have to be ready for any moment, and you never know when your opportunity is going to come,” said head coach Becki Tweed. “Everybody has to prepare as if they are going to lay and be selected. The opportunity came up for Madi [Curry], and she embraced it and grabbed it with two hands. She played with composure. She was good one-on-one. She’s definitely one to watch for the future.”

84 minutes into the match, midfielder Rocky Rodriguez scored a loose ball in the box after a corner kick to tie the match. However, a VAR review denied the goal.

Rodriguez debuted for Angel City in the 65th minute, entering for Amandine Henry. The team acquired her from the Portland Thorns, and after missing the first two matches of the season due to “Concussion Protocol,” she appeared for the first time.

After the check, Angel City made another mistake in stoppage time. Anderson came out to punch away a ball, but it landed at Current forward Bia’s feet, and Bia scored. Angel City’s downfall came from moments like those, and they remain winless through three matches.

“What we have to fix is between us and our group, and we know that we made mistakes today that cost us opportunities and chances. At one point in the game, it was three-three. Those moments when you feel like a VAR call does go against you—whether it’s right or wrong—I have no idea at this moment. You can’t let those moments demoralize you. The game is cruel. The game of football is cruel. It is tough.

Angel City created adequate chances in their first two matches against Bay FC and the Orlando Pride, generating 1.83 and 1.75 expected goals (xG). However, they only found the back of the net once. Against the Current, they were on the back foot early but found themselves in it late. This time, A VAR decision disallowing their goal made a difference and they could not recover.

“We are three games in, and we haven’t been outplayed in any of the three games,” Tweed said. “We have a lot of things that we can fix internally and as a group, and we have some time to regroup and do that.”

Angel City will not play an NWSL match for about two weeks, giving themselves time to regroup before the Chicago Red Stars’ game on April 13.