SAN DIEGO — Angel City has been down many times this season. And before Saturday, they hit their low point in the NWSL standings (11th) as they had not won in seven games. Then, they parted ways with head coach Freya Coombe and named Becki Tweed as the interim head coach, informing the players on Wednesday of the move.
Despite the turmoil, Angel City won on the road against their rivals and the No. 1 team in the NWSL standings, the San Diego Wave, 2-1.
But it did not come without a fight.
57 minutes into the game, Angel City fell behind to the Wave, 1-0, after forward Alex Morgan found defender Kristen McNabb, who struck a shot into the top corner from outside of the box, nutmegging defender Ali Riley in the process.
After the goal, the chance for Angel City to recover from a slow start this season was ticking off the clock. Then, everything changed 70 minutes into the game when midfielder Clarisse Le Bihan’s corner kick flew past a scrum to open defender Paige Nielsen, who scored the equalizing goal.
Shortly after, 88 minutes into the game, defender M.A. Vignola scored to secure three points for Angel City.
“I think [Vignola and I] both black out when we scored. We’re like, crap, we scored,” Nielsen said.
The win was Angel City’s first since May 7, when they beat the Kansas City Current, 3-2. The win moves them to 10th in the NWSL, with the rest of the league yet to play their 12th game this season.
“We had that like little bit of bite and that little bit of grit about us,” Tweed said. “And we always believed from minute one to a 100 that we could win the game.”
Forward Scarlett Camberos assisted on Vignola’s game-winning goal after stealing the ball from forward Melaine Barcenas, who failed to secure it after a clearance attempt.
Camberos started the game over forward Claire Emslie, who was listed as questionable due to a left hip injury. She led the team in shots on goal (two) as she regularly created scoring chances in the final third of the field.
Forward Sydney Leroux also started the game, making her first start since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined her for 311 days. She appeared in Angel City’s previous two games off the bench before starting against the Wave.
Leroux made a few impressive tackles and managed one shot on goal before Le Bihan replaced Leroux 56 minutes into the game.
Goalkeeper DiDi Haračić also helped Angel City to victory by making four saves. Notably, 17 minutes into the game, she denied forward Amirah Ali from close range.
Off the field, willing Angel City to victory, was La Fortaleza, the Angel City supporters, who marched their way into Snapdragon Stadium before the game. Despite occupying roughly one section, they made themselves heard throughout the game, boosting the team’s spirits.
In the final minutes, the Angel City supporters chanted “we can’t hear you,” towards the Wave’s supporters section.
Before Saturday, many Angel City fans have been critical of the team’s performances this year over social media. However, their support in the road win meant a lot to Nielsen.
“Fans on social media. It has been hard. We had people kind of give up on us, but seeing that today in the stands is so overwhelming,” Nielsen said. “Just not us as a team are in this together, but the entire community in LA. It means a lot.”
Now, Angel City will look to build on the momentum they started against the Wave. In Tweed’s second game as head coach, they play the Houston Dash on June 25.