Angel City Suffers Season Home Opener Loss

NWSL Newcomer Bay FC Blanks ACFC 1-0

That damn scoreboard... or to play football is to suffer. The stage for success appeared set leading into Angel City FC's 2024 season home-opener. ACFC welcomed NWSL newcomer and instant California rival Bay FC on Sunday afternoon before a sold-out crowd of 22,000 at BMO Stadium. Statistically, the Sol Rosa dominated. Realistically, they came up short as the final score read: ACFC – 0 / Bay FC - 1.

"It was the most NWSL football game I've seen," stated Head Coach Becki Tweed. "They actually sat off of us. But we played like they (Bay FC) came out at us, and that mentality was a little bit naive of me. They just didn't do what we thought they were going to do."

Angel City failed to find any continuity for the first 34 minutes of the first half. Halfway through that slump a well-prepared Bay FC took the 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. A pass by ACFC defender MA Vignola was intercepted, which led to Bay forward Asisat Oshoala's well-delivered strike inside the upper right post past goalkeeper Angelina Anderson.

"It sucks to lose your home opener," said defender Sarah Gorden, the ACFC's Vice Captain. "It's not how you want to start the season, but there were definitely a lot of positive takeaways. In the second half, we created a lot of good chances and moved the ball well."

Team Captain Ali Riley was encouraged by the response following the first-half deficit: "We did change some things and got a lot better after probably the first 35 minutes. We did have chances, but I also have to shout out Sarah and Paige (Nielsen). Asisat Oshala is a top nine in the world and they really shut her down."

Earlier in the 7th-minute ACFC managed a serious threat with a four-shot barrage inside the Bay FC box on the south side of the stadium but goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx denied forwards Alyssa Thompson and Claire Emslie, along with midfielders Kennedy Fuller (rookie) and Megan Dougherty Howard. Prouix' strong defensive tone lasted the entire match, the obvious key to Bay FC earning the clean sheet in their first-ever NWSL match.

The victory also marked Albertin Montoya's first NWSL win as a full-time head coach in the league. Born in Cuba, the very popular 49-year old Californian who served as interim head coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 revealed: "Definitely not the style of play that we want to play. Angel City did a very good job at defending us... That's why I've told our players, it's going to take time to play a possession style, a game we want to dominate the ball."

The team has a short week to prepare for this Friday's road game in Orlando against the Pride, a 5:00 PM PT start at Inter & Co Stadium. Orlando opened the season at Racing Louisville last Saturday, recovering with from an early 2-0 deficit to register the tie, including the equalizer in the 86th minute by substitute forward Summer Yates.

Angel City's season opening lineup included Anderson (GK), defenders Mary Alice Vignola, Paige Nielsen, Gorden, and Riley; midfielders Amandine Henry, Dougherty Howard, and Fuller; and forwards Sydney Leroux, Emslie, and Thompson. Tweed used five substitutes in the second half starting with Madison Hammond and Merritt Mathias in the 78th-minute. Rookie Gisele Thompson replaced her sister Alyssa in the 82nd-minute, followed by Messiah Bright in the 83rd and Katie Johnson in stoppage time.

Despite ACFC not being able to capitalize on a strong second half performance Tweed was optimistic about the future: "When you're in preseason you work on yourself, and you build on your identity. We came out not knowing where we were going to be. And as we built into it we saw how much more confident we got. Now I can walk away feeling like we can be really good with that final piece."

Gordon reiterated: "Ultimately, it didn't go our way today. This is NWSL, that's how it goes sometimes. We are proud of where we can take this season. We have room to grow, but there are a lot of positive takeaways from tonight."


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