‘Everyone is welcome’: Angel City FC celebrates Pride Night

Angel City FC players wore rainbow warmups to support LGBTQ people during Pride Night at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 7. (Photo by Matthew Legere/Cronkite News)

Angel City FC forward Jun Endo catches her breath near a Pride flag during a break in the action at Angel City’s inaugural Pride Night game at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on June 7. (Photo by Matthew Legere/Cronkite News)

LOS ANGELES – Angel City FC took the field Tuesday night in a rainbow-filled arena for the soccer club’s inaugural Pride Night game, showcasing its support for the LGBTQ community.

Rainbow smoke brightened the evening sky as the team ended the match against the Houston Dash in a nil-nil draw in front of 16,000 raucous fans during the first full week of Pride Month.

The team’s best chance came in the 69th minute, when Dash keeper Jane Campbell made two incredible saves back-to-back. Although the home team didn’t get the W, Banc of California Stadium was in a party mood for Pride Night.

“The crowd tonight was absolutely phenomenal,” manager Freya Coombe said. “We know it’s a Tuesday night, but the number of people that were here with all of the love and support, it was definitely felt.”

Pride Night kicked off with a preparty that included a voguing contest, dancing and a spirit station. Rainbow-themed merchandise, flags and good vibes packed the stands.

“Our community is our priority,” defender Ali Riley said. “I love our supporters, and I love our fans. I really hope that we can continue to show that here at Angel City everyone is welcome, and we accept you for who you are. We continue to grow together and be an example for other teams, other leagues, and other sports.”

Angel City defender Ali Riley wears the rainbow kit in honor of Pride Month at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on June 7. (Photo by Matthew Legere/Cronkite News)

Riley, who was drafted in 2010, has competed in four Olympic games and four FIFA Women’s World Cups.

As they continue to chase their soccer dreams, Riley and teammates are taking on discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Transgender women and girls in sports has been a hot-button issue, and Riley said it breaks her heart to see other girls not getting the same sports opportunities she had.

“I hope that everyone felt the love tonight. It was an incredible atmosphere,” Riley said, thanking the National Women’s Soccer League for fostering an atmosphere of acceptance regardless of gender or sexuality. “I had so much fun out there because it was a great environment. I hope people feel seen, loved and welcomed here because I see them, I love them, and I welcome them.”

As Pride Month continues, sports leagues and teams around the nation are paying tribute to the LGBTQ community. Phoenix Rising had its Pride Night on Saturday, and the Arizona Diamondbacks will celebrate June 25.

Next up for Angel City FC is Racing Louisville FC on Saturday, at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.

Aayush Gupta(he/him/his)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Aayush Gupta expects to graduate in spring 2023 with bachelor’s degrees in sports business and sports journalism. Gupta has interned with the Phoenix Business Journal.

Matthew Legere(he/him/his)
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Matthew Legere expects to graduate in summer 2022 with a master’s degree in sports journalism. Legere has interned with AZPreps365, the Milwaukee Brewers and Society for American Baseball Research.