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 Angel City FC

Angel City Football Club Defeats the Chicago Red Stars and Notches First Win of the 2024 NWSL Season

April 14, 2024 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
Angel City FC News Release

CHICAGO - Angel City earned a 1-0 win on the road in the Chicago Red Stars tonight following a Red Stars own goal set up by ACFC forward Claire Emslie. The win was the team's first of 2024, as well as the first loss for the previously undefeated home team.

Angel City dominated the first half, maintaining almost 70% possession in the first 45 minutes and getting their first look at goal in the 14th minute. With forward Emslie holding the ball up on the left wing, defender Madison Curry made an underlapping run and received a lateral pass from Emslie. She took it to the endline and lofted a ball into the six-yard box, which defender Jasmyne Spencer headed on target- but Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher tipped it over the bar.

Chicago's only real chance of the half came shortly thereafter, in the 18th minute; defender Sam Staab took a long throw into the penalty area, which forward Ally Schlegel headed to forward Penelope Hocking, who in turn headed the ball just wide.

In the 24th minute, Angel City came close again when Spencer sent a gorgeous through ball to forward Alyssa Thompson as she made a run up the right wing. Thompson dribbled a few steps and crossed the ball into the run of forward Sydney Leroux, whose diving header fell wide of the left post.

Closer still was a 32nd minute attempt by midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard off a low cross by Emslie. Her low, driven shot took a deflection off Chicago defender Tatumn Milazzo a few yards from the goal. With Naeher diving the other direction, the ball would have rolled over the line if not for a last-minute clearance by Milazzo.

Angel City continued to dominate possession and push for goal as the game went on, finally breaking through in the 40th minute. Emslie sent a free kick into the six-yard box, ricocheting off the foot of Chicago defender Maxi Rall as she marked Angel City defender Megan Reid- who was in the right place to force the issue regardless- and rolled over the goal line to bring the score to 1-0.

The second half saw the game open up, with the home team earning their best chance to that point in the 55th minute. A long free kick by Staab fell in the center of the 18-yard box, where Schlegel jumped and connected with a well-struck header, but her attempt hit the crossbar.

Chicago had another look in the 63rd minute, again set up by Staab; this time the defender lofted a ball in the run of play into the six-yard box, where forward Jenna Bike headed it wide of the left post.

The Red Stars had a handful of other chances, including another header by Schlegel in the 74th minute which was a routine save for goalkeeper DiDi Haračić; other than that attempt, none of Chicago's shots were on frame.

An 88th-minute effort for Angel City by midfielder Amandine Henry, a header off a corner kick by midfielder Clarisse Le Bihan, was the final chance of the game.

The game was the 175th match for Spencer, an NWSL original- she is the eighth player in league history to hit that mark.

Angel City is at home next Sunday, April 21, at 4:30 p.m. against the North Carolina Courage live on CBSSN. Tickets are available HERE.

ACFC Milestones

Tonight was the first time this season Angel City scored a goal in the first half.

Veteran defender Jasmyne Spencer earned her 175th NWSL career regular season match appearance.

Yesterday, April 12, goalkeeper DiDi Haračić turned 32 years old.

Goalkeeper DiDi Haračić earned her 10th clean sheet of her NWSL career, first of the 2024 season.


Defender Jasmyne Spencer

On making her 175th NWSL appearance:

"Honestly, I think it's a testament to the growth of the league. Really, the fact that it is possible to have played that many games. Rocky and I were actually talking about that this morning. My favorite part is just seeing the growth around the league and being able to play in sold out stadiums- coming from a point in the league where we would get like, 600 fans in rollaway bleachers at a high school field. So it's been an incredible journey and I'm excited to see how it continues to grow."

On what the team did well in possession:

"I think our ability to move the ball and manipulate them, especially in the first half. We were really clean in possession, and that allowed us to open up pockets out wide and create those opportunities. I think we needed more of that in the second half. But like Rocky said, sometimes you just gotta grind it out, so [it's a] big three points on the road."

On earning the first win of 2024:

"Points matter in this league, so anytime you can get points on the road, particularly three, it's massive- but we need to continue to grow. This result is done and dusted. We'll celebrate tonight and then look forward to North Carolina next week."

Midfielder Rocky Rodriguez

On the team's ability to dominate early:

"I think that speaks to the capacity of the group to grow game after game. And yeah, we made it a point to come out with that mentality of, let's be ourselves, let's be brave, and I think we were able to achieve it. I think we did dominate the first half. It was pretty clear and then the second half was not as pretty, but we saw that we have the ability to play pretty, but also grind it out."

On how it feels to get her first start with Angel City:

"I would say really pumped. Very pumped. It's been a little bit of a hectic start for me with Angel City, but I think things happen the way that they have to happen and there's no better game to start than with a win. Really special. I was really looking forward to this moment- first start, first game, and I hope it's the first one of many."

On the substitutes in the game and the importance of squad depth:

"I think we keep talking about this league, but it's because it is really hard. On our team, we talk about how we're going to need everybody, and we're not just saying that. We need everybody. Injuries come, FIFA windows come, the season is really long. It's a lot of travel, it's really physical. So it is true, [it speaks to] the depth of our team, and we're really excited. We know that it's going to take a lot of work still for the next games, but today we will take the win, we will celebrate, and then we'll keep working."

ACFC Head Coach Becki Tweed

On what they team was missing the first three games:

"What we've been missing for the last three weeks is that gritty, ugly piece that I think we had more in us today. So that was pleasing. I think anytime you come to Chicago especially, but anytime on the road to keep a clean sheet is obviously huge. I think sometimes you make your own luck. I say it every week. I think we've today got that grit back and had that kickstart that we just needed right now."

On Sarah Gorden taking on the role of captain:

"I just asked her to be herself and that's what she was. And I think it's always special in games when you come home to your hometown and a place that you've played for a long time. And I think she just embraced it and took it on her shoulders."

The takeaway from the win:

"I think our first half performance might be our best performance so far of the season. And I hope that we can build on that as individuals and as a team. I think when you look at it, we dominated in every space and I think we were unlucky not to be a couple of goals up at halftime, but again, the game is 90 minutes and sometimes half a game is not good enough and we have to build from it. But ultimately, three points is the most important thing that we've got to take away from this right now."

On how DiDi Haracic played high in the midfield:

"We want our goalkeepers to be able to build out with their feet. We knew they were going to press us with two or we assumed they were going to press us with two and instead of bringing somebody down behind the ball we decided to use DiDi. I think that again, we had to get our center backs wide enough to break the press. So sometimes you have to play a couple more passes to get out. And you need that connector. And that's what we used DiDi as today."

On the importance of the clean sheet:

"We wanted to do the ugly things really well and actually reflected on it. We spoke about this today. It's the basic things that you need to do to earn the right to win games. And we kind of dialed into that. We can talk tactics and can talk all the X's and O's that you want to talk, but if you don't do the basic things well and the ugly things well - you can have that grit, but you can't build on it. I think we really focused on that this week being clean, but also having that gritty edge and I think we had that today."

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