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Why Angel City faded in 2022, and how this NWSL season could be different

No NWSL team used fewer starters or made fewer subs in 2022, and only one team lost more points after the 80th minute. In 2023, more precise squad management will be make or break

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Angel City made a serious impact on the National Women’s Soccer League in its debut season in 2022.

The club had the league’s highest average attendance, and home games were defined by incredible atmospheres. There were signs of a promising new SoCal rivalry with the San Diego Wave, and Angel City won the first regular-season meeting, at home in front of a sellout crowd. There was genuine hope of a playoff spot, too, up until the final weekend. Ultimately, head coach Freya Coombe’s side finished four points off the top six.

Going into their second year, Angel City’s aim will be to push into the postseason. To do that, the Los Angeles side needs to finish stronger — in individual matches and down the stretch of the season.

Angel City ended 2022 with four defeats from six games. Results in that stretch were the third-worst in the league; only Orlando Pride and NJ/NY Gotham had a worse record. While other teams were solidifying their position or making a late sprint up the table, Angel City dropped off dramatically. To prevent the same thing from happening again, there needs to be an understanding of why it happened in the first place.

Obviously, the loss of forward Christen Press to a season-ending ACL injury last June was a huge blow. The 34-year-old was enjoying her best form, at times single-handedly carrying the team’s attack. Still, there was enough quality throughout the roster to compete with the rest of the league, and the absence of Press did not result in an immediate decline in results. The arrivals of Sydney Leroux and Claire Emslie no doubt played a part in that, ensuring a greater variety of options in the forward line.

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