Angel City soccer hopes to get back on the winning track
June 23, 2022
Angel City FC were not happy a happy lot following a physical 1-0 clean sheet loss to the OL Reign on Friday night at Lumen Field, Seattle. "It was a difficult game," said Freya Coombe, ACFC head coach. "I think the team feels disappointed and frustrated with some of the key moments that could have been potentially game-changing."
"I thought we did well in the second half in terms of our possession and had some sustained pressure. Unfortunately, I don't think we did enough in the final third to challenge them and cause them problems."
ACFC had a couple of opportunities minutes into the match. But the Reign scored the game's only goal in the 31st minute after misfiring on a number of excellent chances as they continually pressured in the first half. Angel City was a bit unfortunate to concede when defender Ali Riley attempted to clear Reign midfielder Angelina's pass towards goal. The clearance directly met Reign forward Bethany Balcer's foot, which was instantly punched into the back of the net.
"It was a tricky ball to deal with," stated ACFC goalkeeper DiDi Haracic. "We just got a little bit unlucky. That is unfortunately part of the game. You get some luck and lose some luck, but that is part of the game. We regrouped after that. It took us a little bit to get our legs under us. I thought the second half was much better. We are just going to build off of that for the next game."
Haracic was in excellent form once again, diving to make multiple saves on OL's 10 shots in the first half, a majority dangerous attempts inside the box. ACFC dodged a bullet when defender Madison Hammond cleared a rebound from a shot by Reign midfielder Veronica Latsko that hit the post in the 40th minute. Angel City has now lost three of their five results that have ended in 1-0 score.
Clarisse Le Bihan was an early substitution for forward Simone Charley, who sustained an injury a minute after the Reign scored in the first half. Le Bihan was instrumental in connecting with midfielder Savannah McCaskill for several dangerous attacks in the second half. McCaskill took Le Bihan's pass in the 54th minute, maneuvered towards goal and just missed with a shot past the post. Both combined again in the 64th minute only to be denied by OL goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce.
"Losing Simone Charley early on in the game was a big change, in terms of another striker that wasn't able to play. I thought Savannah did a good job when she got rotated up there," said Coombe. "Ultimately, we have to be more decisive with our forward passes. We have to be able to play in different ways and stretch the opponent a little bit more."
Coombe observed that when Angel City isn't moving the ball quick enough, it allows the opponent to get pressure and keep ACFC pinned into its defensive third, leading to turnovers. The team is still missing the final movement service into the box to get the desired result. The physical match and fatigue were factors compounded by Angel City's compressed schedule over the past few weeks.
"I think we aren't going to be 100 percent every game," said Haracic. "... but we bounced back in the second half. We have to start putting things away. The scoreboard is where it counts. I just want to win. You want to come out of here with points. If you get points in this league, it is big."
Despite controlling the second half and the time of possession by a 55.2% to 44.8% margin, Angel City managed only six total shots for the match, with three on goal. The best chance came in the 70th minute as midfielder Cari Roccaro received an ideal pass from forward Paige Nielsen. But Roccaro's header directed to the center of the goal was easily saved by Tullis-Joyce. Ultimately, despite seven minutes of stoppage time at the end with the Reign defending on their back heels, Angel City failed to convert the equalizer.
Coombe: "They definitely continued to show their grit and their character tonight. I thought we were unlucky not to get something out of that game. I thought the Reign were just hanging in there at the end."
Following a 2-week international break from the NWSL regular season schedule, ACFC's will return to the Banc of California Stadium to host the Portland Thorns on Friday, July 1, at 7:30 p.m. In the club's first matchup of the regular season they lost 3-0 to the Thorns at Providence Park, Portland on June 3. Through eight weeks of the schedule Angel City (4-4-1) is tied for fifth place with the Reign (3-2-4), each with 13 total points.
San Diego Wave FC (5-2-3) remains in first place with 18 points, followed by Portland (4-1-4) and the Chicago Red Stars (4-1-4) with 16 points. The Houston Dash (4-2-3, 15 points) are in fourth, with the Washington Spirit (1-3-6), Gotham FC (3-4-0), Racing Louisville FC (2-4-3), and the Kansas City Current (2-4-3) all tied for seventh with nine points each. The Orlando Pride (2-5-2, 8 points) and the North Carolina Courage (2-4-1, 7 points) round out the standings.
"We're disappointed," said Haracic. "We know how good we are. Teams should be scared of us. All I know is, we don't like losing. We want to win. We are going to take this international break off and next game, three points."