The 2022 expansion team narrowly missed the playoffs in their inaugural season but have not yet filled the gaps in their roster heading into the 2023 preseason.
Angel City had 21 players signed for the 2023 season heading into last December, but those 21 only included five midfielders, with one player who only had 200 minutes last season and another who played forward most of their minutes. So one might think that locking down some more depth in the midfield would be priority number one.
The first moves Angel City made in December were aimed at locking down the backline, with extending defender Jasmyne Spencer through 2024 with an option for 2025, signing ironwoman Megan Reid for the 2023 season, and extending Paige Nielsen through 2024.
The week before the draft, Angel City FC made a series of trades to capture the No. 1 overall draft pick. First they sent their No. 5 overall pick and $200,000 to Portland for midfielder Yazmeen Ryan. Then they traded Ryan and an additional $250,000 to NJ/NY Gotham for the No. 1 overall pick.
The morning of draft day, numerous Parisian outlets announced the signing of defender Allyson Swaby. The Jamaican international is technically signed through the end of the 2023 season, but only played in 21 minutes during the regular season last year. After an accidental Angel City release on January 27th that was quickly deleted, both teams confirmed the move January 30th.
During the draft, Angel City took 18-year-old forward Alyssa Thompson as their first pick. Thompson had previous plans to attend Stanford before she registered for the draft. Thompson got her first senior USWNT cap last October against England, and has the potential to be a generational talent for Angel City. With their other pick, ACFC acquired the rights to University of California, Berkeley goalkeeper Angelina Anderson.
General Manager Angela Hucles spoke of drafting Thompson, “at the beginning of last year, she came in as a practice player and trained in the ACFC environment. She’s been on our radar for a while, so for our strategy now in the short term as well as how we’re looking to build our roster long-term, she can check both boxes.” Head coach Freya Coombe spoke to the press following the draft, “we brought Angelina into a clinic that was run for prospective goalkeepers that we’re looking to play in the NWSL, and she impressed our coaches right away … Her physical and technical capabilities were really impressive as well.”
The week after the trade, Angel City announced a straight trade sending forward and sometimes outside back Tyler Lussi to North Carolina in return for defender Merritt Mathias. Mathias’s current contract is through 2023 with an option for 2024.
In late January, Angel City traded midfielder Cari Roccaro to the Chicago Red Stars for $65k in allocation money. The next day the team signed midfielder/forward free agent Katie Johnson to a 2-year deal.
It is important to note that Canadian defender Vanessa Gilles is still on loan to Olympique Lyonnais and is expected to return to the team in June, and then swiftly join team Canada in preparations for the Women’s World Cup. Swaby is in this same bucket, so when they return in September, there will be 10 defenders on the roster, which is a bit heavy for a 26-person team.
As for the injuries that plagued the team last year, head coach Freya Coombe gave an update on the current status for Christen Press (ACL) and Sydney Leroux (ankle), “they’re making steady progress and we’re just continuing to monitor both them, and Sarah Gordon as well, to be able to come in and we’re really excited about the prospect of having our team fit and we’re hoping that it’s gonna be as soon as possible.”
As of Jan 30, 2023
Goalkeepers (3): DiDi Haračić, Brittany Isenhour, Angelina Anderson (Draft)
Defenders (8 + 2 LOAN): Sarah Gorden, Madison Hammond, Paige Nielsen, Megan Reid, Ali Riley, Jasmyne Spencer, M.A. Vignola, Merritt Mathias, Vanessa Gilles (LOAN), Allyson Swaby (LOAN)
Midfielders (5): Clarisse Le Bihan (INTL-FRA), Savannah McCaskill, Lily Nabet, Dani Weatherholt, Katie Johnson
Forwards(6): Simone Charley, Claire Emslie, Jun Endo (INTL-JPN), Sydney Leroux, Christen Press, Alyssa Thompson (Draft)