The value of Angel City’s preseason trip

Angel City traveled to Melbourne, Florida and Coachella, California ahead of the 2024 season.

INDIO, Calif. — Angel City held its mini”Met Gala” on Feb. 23. They split into teams, designing outfits to be judged by coaches and staff. 

Defender Merritt Mathias led her group, assigning roles to her teammates. She was proud of their design, but they faced fierce competition from a team led by midfielder Lily Nabet.

Nabet and her partners created “reimagined royalty” pieces, which impressed her peers despite limited resources. Still, Mathias felt confident in her team’s chances.

“The team is super creative,” Mathias told The Sporting Tribune. “When it all came together, I was blown away. I did not think it was going to be as good as it was. And my team served space. Alyssa [Thompson] killed it.”

To Mathias’s surprise, her team placed second, as Nabet’s squad won.

“I want to go to the actual Met Gala,” Nabet said. Seeing my own vision come alive with the ‘reimagined royalty,’ I think it hit. It killed. I love fashion.”

The “Met Gala” was part of an Angel City trip that featured team bonding and training, a valuable experience. The team went to Melbourne, Florida, and Coachella, California. In both places, they spent most hours of the day together, whether they were eating, training, or participating in activities. 

“It’s irreplaceable,” head coach Becki Tweed told reporters. “You’re looking to spend 11 months with this team throughout the year. There are going to be conflicts, moments of joy, difficult moments, good moments. I can definitely say we’ve been through that in the last three weeks, and we still have more to go. We have to challenge each other more. We have to grow from this.” 


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Another one of Angel City’s adventures involved ziplining. Mathias thought that ziplining was going to be “lame” when they started with a trial run that was barely above ground. However, little did she know the following zip line would not be so close.

“I hate zipling, that was awful,” Mathias said. “It was one of those things where you go through the little demonstration, and you are like, ‘this is lame. I’m like five feet off the ground. What is this?’ And then we walk up to what they called Tall Boy, and it’s like 100 feet off the ground, and I’m like, ‘I don’t like this at all.’ I was not well. That was probably the worst-best memory of preseason because you push yourself. There’s something you’re scared of.” 

Conversely, defender Sarah Gorden loved ziplining and the many other experiences, some of which she said she could not share. 

“Ziplining was really fun,” Gorden said. “And then there’s a lot of memories I can’t share.”

On the field, Angel City progressed as they continued to build bonds. They also played a preseason match in the Coachella Valley versus Bay FC, drawing 0-0. 

The match featured heavily rotated lineups and experimentation. It served as a chance for extra looks at players ahead of final roster cuts. Angel City also got a glimpse of how their team stood among other NWSL teams. 

“The opportunity to get out in the middle of preseason and see where you are is something that is really valuable,” Tweed said. “Giving the team an opportunity to come out and compete with people they’re going to play against, especially for the first game of the season, and setting and resetting new goals for the next three weeks.”

Angel City Football Club

The team bonding and on-field experience were crucial, but not everything was positive. Unfortunately for Angel City, forward Jun Endo tore her ACL during training in Melbourne.

“Anytime an injury like this happens to a player, it’s devastating,” Tweed said. “Jun [Endo] came into this preseason in a space where she was excelling at everything on and off the field. This kind of injury is tough, but we will support Jun through her recovery.”

The team had to work past the injury on the field and mentally. Endo regularly brought joy to training with a smile on her face.

Angel City returned to Los Angeles and has a few weeks before kicking off their regular season. They play Bay FC in their season opener on March 17.