Preview: Angel City (a).
Updated: May 8, 2022
When? Sunday May 8, 5.00 p.m. PT, 8.00 p.m. ET and 00:01 BST (9/5).
Where? Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, CA.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on Paramount+ for residents of the United States and on Twitch for international supporters.
The Pride are heading west, to the state of California, for the first time in their history as they take on Angel City FC. The prospect of playing in front of a crowded Banc of California Stadium will be an exciting one for this team.
Recent results obviously haven't been great, but this is what soccer is all about. Players want to thrive in these big games. This is a game where we will learn a lot about this squad, and one the players will learn a lot about themselves. A positive result in La La Land, against Natalie Portman's Angel City, could really kickstart the Pride's season.
Maybe Angel City will just feel sad and suddenly stop playing for some reason. For those that don't know, that was an extremely poor and rather shoe horned reference to the death of Padme Amidala in Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. If you don't understand the relevance of that movie to this game then get out of here, we don't serve your kind here. Another Star Wars reference... Sorry. No, wait. I'm not sorry. Frost it. I'll be impressed if you get that one.
Angel City's style
As with any expansion team it's not the easiest job in the world to try and predict how they're going to play. I caught their game against San Diego Wave FC in the Challenge Cup (the 4-2 loss). In that game Angel City were clearly trying to dominate possession; 401 passes with 53.6% of the overall play. However, against the Courage (season opener) they were quite happy to let North Carolina have possession of the ball (figure 1).
In that game, Angel City came out of the blocks quickly, scoring twice in the first 13 minutes. I would expect them to try and do the same against the Pride, particularly seeing as they are the home team. They will smell blood with Orlando. Orlando's defence has struggled so far in 2022, consequently Angel City will feel like they can get at their defence. Particularly if Christen Press is on song.
The former Manchester United forward was unlucky not to get on the board against the Courage; Press had 5 shots, hitting the woodwork with 1 of them (figure 2). Angel City also have plenty of pace in wide areas, particularly in the form of Tyler Lussi and Jun Endo. If they can stretch the Pride's backline, Press could have some joy.
Figure 1 shows some statistics from Angel City's win over the North Carolina Courage.
Figure 2 shows Christen Press' attacking stats from the game against the Courage.
Angel City are in the rather unique position of having a fully fit and available squad to choose from. Must be nice.
The Pride, conversely, have a few injury issues. Although, it has to be said, things are improving. Anna Moorhouse and Meggie Dougherty-Howard are still doubts, as is Caitlin Cosme. Marta continues to be out of contention.
EDIT: 5/7: new signing, Jordyn Listro is available for selection.
5/8: Angharad James, Amy Turner, Parker Roberts and Vivianna Villacorta all miss out through injury.
This section will be updated as new information becomes available.
Possible starting XI
Given that they've had a full rest week and that they'll want to continue their momentum at home, I think Angel City will go unchanged in their favoured 4-3-3 formation:
The USWNT forward's record speaks for itself. She has scored 36 goals in 104 appearances at international level. Fresh from her spell at Manchester United, the California native has returned home to play her trade with Angel City. Her qualities are well known and there's no doubt she's the jewel in Angel City's crown. The Pride will have to keep her quiet to have any hope of returning to Florida with a positive result.
Angel City didn't have the best time of it in the NWSL Challenge Cup, finishing bottom of the group and winning only 1 of their 6 games. They started the regular season off with a win against the North Carolina Courage, however.
The Pride, on the other hand, were winless in the Challenge Cup and were hit for 3 by Gotham FC in the opening game.
Cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Top player image, interview footage and highlight film all courtesy of Angel City FC.