Fans are thrilled as Angel City FC makes its debut in women’s pro soccer

Seattle Ol Reign players celebrate their 3-1 victory against Angel City in Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton on March 26. (Photo by Lauren Lively/Cronkite News)

Angels goalkeeper DiDi Haračić kicks the ball back after defending her goal against Ol Reign. (Photo by Lauren Lively/Cronkite News)

Angel City defender Vanessa Giles tries to control the ball in a nutmeg.
(Photo by Lauren Lively/Cronkite News)

The Angels support one another during an exhibition game March 26. The regular season opens April 29. (Photo by Lauren Lively/Cronkite News)

Goalie DiDi Haračić and other Angel City players walk onto the pitch for their exhibition game against Seattle. (Photo by Lauren Lively/Cronkite News)

Cari Roccaro signs autographs after Angel City’s preseason loss to Ol Reign on March 26. (Photo by Lauren Lively/Cronkite News)

FULLERTON, Calif. – Move over, Los Angeles Lakers, Dodgers and Rams, there are some new kids on the block: Angel City FC, the only professional women’s soccer team in the Southwest.

“For a team that’s so new, we want to try and have an element of consistency, but we also want to make sure we’re competitive in the games we are facing,” Angel City FC coach Freya Coombe said.

The National Women’s Soccer League team began in 2020 with a majority female ownership group spearheaded by famous women, including actresses Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner and Gabrielle Union, as well as soccer legend Mia Hamm.

“Watching my son idolize players like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan the same way he did Lionel Messi or Karim Benzema, I realized that amplifying female athletes could rapidly shift culture,” Portman told the Guardian.

The Angel City roster includes first-round pick midfielder Hope Breslin, who was the team’s first pick, and attacker Christen Press, a Los Angeles native who has been synonymous with the U.S. Women’s National Team, scoring 64 goals in her international career.

The team got its first taste of action this month with two exhibition games before the regular season opener April 29 at home against the North Carolina Courage. The Angels played their second exhibition game Saturday against Seattle Ol Reign, losing 1-3 at California State University Fullerton’s Titan Stadium.

Any new team is bound to stumble. On Saturday, that came in the form of an early red-card that had Angel City playing one woman down – which gave the team a learning opportunity, coach Freya Coombe said after the game.

Although the outcome wasn’t what the Angels had hoped for, the fan turnout was encouraging. And though they’re a new team, the Angel City fans were devoted last weekend: Down 0-3 in the second half, fans were still chanting and banging their game drums.

“I think this is going to be a really good team, it’s a big team and I think that people will see this and love it,” fan Omar Sandoval said.

Forward Tyler Lussi, who scored Angel City’s only goal against the Lions, was stoked by the fan love.

“It’s amazing to see the fanbase show up – obviously, coming from Portland, we had a ton of fans – but to see that here in L.A., to see so many different people show up, that’s where the women’s games need to go, if we can get that every week that would be awesome,” Lussi said.

Angel City plays its preseason games in Fullerton, but once the season starts, the action will take place in the Banc of California Stadium, sharing the L.A. facility with Los Angeles FC.

Sports Reporter, Los Angeles

Adrian Bascope expects to graduate in summer 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Bascope is working for the L.A. sports bureau.

Lauren Lively LORR-ən Lie-vel-EE (she/her/hers)
News Visual Journalist, Los Angeles

Lauren Lively expects to graduate in 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. She is working for the L.A. news bureau.