SEATTLE, Wash. — Angel City Football Club (ACFC) lost to OL Reign 1-0 on the road, Saturday, in a fast-paced, physical match.
Reign forward Bethany Balcer scored the only goal of the night.
“I think we aren’t going to be 100 percent every game,” ACFC goalkeeper DiDi Haračić said. “We didn’t show up fully today, but we bounced back in the second half. We have to start putting things away. The scoreboard is where it counts. I just want to win. You want to come out of here with points. If you get points in this league, it is big.
“We’re disappointed. We know how good we are. Teams should be scared of us. All I know is, we don’t like losing. We want to win. We are going to take this international break off and next game, three points.”
The match got off to a frenetic start. ACFC found a few chances and half-chances early, but the momentum quickly went the Reign’s way, and the home team began peppering LA with chances in transition, often after winning the ball back with aggressive midfield pressure.
The home team nearly got on the board in the 16th minute when a corner kick by forward Megan Rapinoe was pinged around a few times in the penalty area before falling to defender Alana Cook, who was lurking at the top of the area. Cook took a low, driven shot through the crowd of players, which goalkeeper DiDi Haračić did well to save.
The next 10 minutes saw the Reign continue finding chances in transition, and they notched the first and only goal of the night in the 31st minute. Midfielder Jess Fishlock dribbled past her mark and found fellow midfielder Angelina near the edge of the 18. Angelina sent the ball into the mixer, where Angel City defender Ali Riley kicked an attempted clearance into Balcer, who hammered a shot to the far post.
“It was a tricky ball to deal with,” Haračić said. “We just got a little bit unlucky. That is unfortunately part of the game. You get some luck and lose some luck, but that is part of the game. We regrouped after that. It took us a little bit to get our legs under us. I thought the second half was much better. We are just going to build off of that for the next game.”
Seattle continued to push, but Haračić and the defense managed to keep them from finding a second goal. In the 40th minute, defender Madison Hammond made a clutch defensive play after forward Veronica Latsko’s shot hit the post from close range. Hammond quickly stepped in front of Latsko and kicked the ball out for a corner.
“Ultimately, we have to be more decisive with our forward passes. We have to be able to play in different ways and stretch the opponent a little bit more,” ACFC coach Freya Coombe said. “When we are consistently playing through the third, it allows teams to press us. If we aren’t moving the ball quick enough, or we aren’t switching play, it is easy for our opponents to get pressure on us and keep us pinned into our defensive third, leading to turnovers. That was very much the story at the end of the first half. We are just missing the final movement piece. The final service into the box.”
The second half saw ACFC gain more control, and in the 54th minute, midfielder Savannah McCaskill had one of the best chances of the night. While running at the Reign back line, she received the ball from midfielder Clarisse Le Bihan, dribbled to the right, then cut left to beat three defenders. Her low left-footed shot went inches wide of the near post.
Ten minutes later, Le Bihan and McCaskill again connected, this time on a McCaskill free kick to the far post that Le Bihan connected with and volleyed into keeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce from close range.
Much of the rest of the game was a physical, back-and-forth affair, with neither team grabbing control of the game, and both receiving multiple yellow cards. Haračić continued to shine, with one impressive save in the 83rd minute where she dove backwards to deflect a shot/cross from forward Tziarra King. Neither team could find a goal, and the game ended after six minutes of stoppage time.
“It was a highly physical match. We also may be carrying a little bit of additional fatigue from our three games last week. It was a lot physically for our players,” Coombe said. “They definitely continued to show their grit and their character tonight. I thought we were unlucky not to get something out of that game. I thought the Reign were just hanging in there at the end.”
Angel City plays next on July 1, after the international break, against the Portland Thorns at Banc of California Stadium. The match will be streamed live on Paramount+.