The game was fully entertaining for the neutral, particularly in the 2nd half when the Southern California rivals threw metaphorical haymakers as they wrestled control of the game back and forth, but even with Wave FC playing with an extra player for the final 10 minutes and change, Angel City had the edge on the night and got the result.
Figuring there was no need to fix what wasn’t broken, Casey Stoney went with the same XI to begin the game for San Diego that won last time out against the Washington Spirit.
The game didn’t start especially well for San Diego. After San Diego controlled the run of play in the opening minutes, Angel City scored on their first foray in attack on the night, with Jun Endo hitting a patient ball to Ali Riley on the left edge of the box, and Riley hitting a tightly-angled shot that beat Carly Telford in goal in the 9th minute.
Wave FC appeared a bit rattled by that early concession, and lost their rhythm, struggling to keep possession as the home team surged. It was one of San Diego’s worst halves of the regular season, and while they weren’t shipping goals, they did not control the game or manage a volume number of scoring chances in the first 45, which has largely been their calling card.
The best look for the visitors came in first-half stoppage time, as a free kick from about 25 yards by Abby Dahlkemper beat DiDi Haračić in Angel City’s goal, but clanged off the crossbar and away from goal.
The 2nd half started much the same as the 1st went, with Angel City controlling the run of play and San Diego trying to get purchase on the match, Syd Leroux scored in the 51st minute for Angel City, but the goal was chalked off due to an offside call for the striker, saving San Diego’s blushes a bit.
Stoney’s first change to the lineup came in the 56th minute, with Katie Johnson replacing Makenzy Doniak up top for Wave FC.
That move paid off a few minutes later, as Johnson had a great dribble and wonderful nutmeg pass to Kristen McNabb, who hit the one-timer perfectly to tie up the game for San Diego and breathe new life into Wave FC.
A couple minutes later, Kelsey Turnbow nearly scored on a cross/shot that beat Haračić, but it caromed off the post and did not quite appear to go over the line. About a minute later, Marleen Schimmer nearly scored on a one-timer that sailed just wide, as Wave FC really turned it on to push for a go-ahead strike.
Amirah Ali then entered the game in the 67th minute for Belle Briede.
Angel City then applied pressure, with a shot in the 70th minute by Madison Hammond forcing Telford into a full stretch to make the save, which she did.
Tyler Lussi picked up her second yellow card in the game in the 79th minute, after bringing down Ali on a breakaway attempt, raising San Diego’s hopes of a late smash-and-grab win.
But after nearly conceding when Simone Charley smashed into Telford, on a walkabout, outside the box, Angel City got the go-ahead goal in the 82nd minute through Claire Emslie, making her debut for the club.
San Diego pushed in the final minutes for the equalizer, testing Haračić several times, but the Angel City GK was up to the task. In the end, it wasn’t enough.
The 2nd half was fully entertaining and credit to San Diego for making it a game, truly, but it wasn’t enough to get the result. This looked like a game where Wave FC could have used one or several of the players missing on international duty at the moment, but even after a poor 1st half, they made it a game and came just short. This will sting but San Diego still have the resilience to hang with every team, and I think this is going to be one of the toughest environments they’ll face this season. There’s plenty to learn here, but I’m sure more than a few will be circling the big stadium opener return leg in San Diego in September.
San Diego are next in action next Friday, when they are scheduled to host Racing Louisville at Torero Stadium. Racing have beaten Wave FC already this season, so it’s a chance to even up the score, so to speak.
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