NWSL Season Preview 2023: Angel City shoots for the stars

Mar 8, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Angel City FC players pose for a team photo before the game against Club America Femenil at BMO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Angel City FC players pose for a team photo before the game against Club America Femenil at BMO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

After an inaugural season marked with injuries and disappointment, Angel City returns with a vengeance to earn their playoff spot this year.

One of two expansion clubs that joined the NWSL for the 2022 season, Angel City FC was within reach of the playoffs last season and they’ll be looking to improve on that this year. They suffered a streak of bad luck last season, with several of their star players suffering injuries early in the season. This included Christen Press, Sarah Gordon, and Sydney Leroux. But those players are resting up, and appear almost all ready to go for the upcoming season.

If there is a reality in which all three share the pitch, every other team should be seriously concerned about their chances as Angel City builds on their success from last season.

Angel City FC projected starting XI:

The best thing that Angel City has done during their offseason so far is allowing their players to recover and heal. Their starting lineup will be made that much more exciting by players making their return to the pitch after recovering from injury.

Angel City did make a splash when they got ahold of the number one draft pick and drafted Alyssa Thompson, making her the first high schooler selected in the NWSL draft. It’s likely she’ll see lots of minutes this year, especially considering she scored in her Angel City debut against Club America in a preseason friendly. This is who we might see start for Angel City in their opening match against Gotham FC on March 26.

Goalkeeper: DiDi Haračić

Defenders: Sarah Gordon, Paige Nielsen, Ali Riley, Megan Reid

Midfielders: Savannah McCaskill, Dani Weatherholt, Jun Endo

Forwards: Alyssa Thompson, Simone Charley, Sydney Leroux

Angel City FC Most Important Player: Christen Press

It’s not an original pick for the most important player but it’s a solid one. Christen Press is gearing up for her return to the NWSL this season, and when it happens it’s sure to make a splash. One of the greatest forwards in the world, Christen had two goals in for LA by the time she tore her ACL at the start of the season.

The two-time World Cup champion has scored 64 goals for her country and is the all-time leading goal scorer for Stanford. She’s also a leader off the field, championing the USWNT fight for equal pay and founding the clothing and lifestyle brand Re-Inc to promote positive change with fellow USWNT teammates. She’s one of the key faces of Angel City, promoting their club and bringing them a larger audience. Seeing her make her comeback after injury will be a key moment this season both for Angel City and for the entire women’s soccer world.

Angel City FC best case scenario for the 2023 season: Finish top 5, make the semifinals

With an all-star roster and a strong leader at the helm, the sky is the limit for Angel City this season. If all their injured players return to the field, it’s likely we’ll be seeing them in the playoffs for this season. They were only four points away from a playoff clinch last season, and they were moving in the right direction. If they continue to build on the success they saw last season, it’s easy to see them claiming a playoff spot. With an intense season ahead of them, they can hope that their stellar attacking power and confident backline will land them in the top five at the end of the season.

Angel City FC predicted finish: Finish sixth, out in the semifinals

With a hunger to prove themselves and outshine their expansion team rivals, Angel City will be ruthless on the pitch this year. They’re going to put everything they have into making the playoffs this year, with no one in their club wanting to relive the pain of just missing out last season. But they’re not the only club attempting to redeem themselves for last season, and that competition will allow them to make the playoffs, but without a lot of wiggle room.

Angel City doesn’t seem championship ready yet and are likely going to win their quarterfinal but fall to a more seasoned team in the semis. No matter where they finish, Angel City will be an exceptional team to watch this year, with passionate supporters and a bench full of aces set on making playoffs.

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