NWSL Angel City FC preview: Can Christen Press lead league’s newest team to a successful Challenge Cup start?

The National Women’s Soccer League preseason is wrapping up and the 12 clubs in the league are preparing for the eight-month grind with the Challenge Cup and the regular season looming. The 2022 Challenge Cup kicked off on March 18 with the cup final coming on May 7. Fans can watch the Challenge Cup opening weekend matches live and on-demand on Paramount +. For the full NWSL regular season schedule, click here.

Angel City FC is a new expansion side and the club is preparing to take its first steps in NWSL action during the upcoming Challenge Cup. It’s been a year since the side announced its arrival to the league during the 2020 Challenge Cup and they’ve been building towards their inaugural season ever since.

The franchise unveiled a star studded investor group that featured several big names across Hollywood, sports, tech, and business. Former venture fund advisor and gaming platform developer Julie Uhrman is a founder and president of the club and the ownership group features actor Natalie Portman, USWNT hall of famer Mia Hamm and tennis icon Serena Williams among others.

Let’s take a look at how Angel City FC prepared ahead of the 2022 NWSL season:

Offseason overview

Staff: After making their league expansion announcement with a large and notable ownership group, the franchise quickly got to work establishing a club name, front office resources, and a massive technical staff.

The staff includes Former USWNT player Angela Hucles as Vice President of Player Development & Operations, former England women’s national team player Eniola Aluko as the club technical director, and Kim McCauley as the Director of Scouting and Analytics among others.

Late into the 2021 NWSL season, the club announced former NJ / NY Gotham manager Freya Coombe as their new head coach and added Robert Udberg as assistant head coach from Chelsea.

Biggest acquisitions: The franchise assembled their entire roster over the offseason, but made headlines when they announced their first player signing with California native and USWNT forward Christen Press. The franchise was also active in several moves ahead of the expansion draft in an effort to make potential player transitions to the club less awkward while building out their roster. Dani Weatherholt, Jasmyn Spencer, and Paige Neilsen were all selected via the expansion event. Japanese international Jun Endo, Canadian international Vanessa Gilles, and Jamaican international Allyson Swaby were also signed to the club.

Burning question entering 2022 season

Angel City FC is one of two franchises being introduced into the league for 2022. As the team prepares for their first ever NWSL match against California rivals San Diego Wave FC, a similar question of the two clubs exists ahead of the 2022 season as no expansion team has ever made the NWSL postseason in their inaugural season.

However, for Angel City, another question lingers for the franchise as a whole, with their massive introduction to the league. The club unveiled their star studded ownership group, with an emphasis as a woman-led sports group that aimed to reshape the women’s soccer landscape. The franchise emphasized long term investment, player first initiatives, next level resources, strong commitments to the greater Los Angeles community, and utilizing soccer as the vehicle for the movement.

Eyes will be on Angel City to see if the club will break the expansion side postseason curse, while also asking if the 18 month build up to 2022 will lead to wins on the pitch.

What they’re saying

Christen Press returns to NWSL action for the first time since 2019. The forward spent time playing overseas with Manchester United and the US women’s national team prior to signing with Angel City. Ahead of the upcoming match against San Diego Wave, the forward chatted about the upcoming game and the potential regional rivalry between the two sides.

“I think I’m just looking forward to what the rivalry with San Diego becomes. I think it’s really interesting to be two expansion teams so close to each other.

You’re going to get a lot of players wanting to come play here, so hopefully over time both clubs will be and can stay elite in terms of competition, which, of course, fuels a great rivalry. All of that is yet to be written and we’ll see it kick off on Saturday. “

Forward Jasmyne Spencer has been in the league since its inception, and is now with her seventh club with Angel City. Spencer sat down sat down with the “Attacking Third” CBS Sports podcast to discuss joining Angel City FC ahead of their inaugural season and building a new culture.

“It’s been great honestly from day one. The level of intensity and the quality and level of play has been there and it’s been so fun to be a part of it. I think the beauty of being part of an expansion team is you get to set those expectations and those standards everyday. So, to be a part of that … I think we are going to be an exicitng team to watch. “

Want more coverage of women’s soccer? Listen below and make sure to follow Attacking Third, A CBS Soccer Podcast devoted to bringing you everything you need to know from the NWSL and around the globe.

Angel City FC roster

Angel City currently have a 24-player roster as the team enters the 2022 Challenge Cup. Defenders and midfielders are the most crowded units with eight players listed among each position, followed by forwards with five players. Expect DiDi Haračić as the starting goalkeeper, and Christen Press as the lead striker. A late season trade with OL Reign for Madison Hammond could signal more time for the defender with Angel City.

Goalkeepers (3): By Di Haračić, Brittany Isenhour, Maia Perez

Defenders (8): Vanessa Gilles (INT), Sarah Gorden, Madison Hammond, Paige Nielsen, Ali Riley, Allyson Swaby, MA Vignola, Megan Reid

Midfielders (8): Hope Breslin, Katie Cousins, Stefany Ferrer Van Ginkel (INT), Savannah McCaskill, Lily Nabet, Cari Roccaro, Miri Taylor (INT, NYR), Dani Weatherholt

Forwards (5): Simone Charley, Jun Endo (INT), Tyler Lussi, Christen Press, Jasmyne Spencer

Projected finish

If soccer is the vehicle to create change for Angel City, the club has already achieved that with their arrival to the league and forcing better standards from franchises to their players. It’s time to see those resources put into action as the team begins translate them into results on the pitch. A slow start might have a big pay off, expect Angel City to compete for an expanded playoff spot.

Leave a Comment