Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Home CALIFORNIA Angel City FC holds off Washington, keeps playoff hopes alive

Angel City FC holds off Washington, keeps playoff hopes alive

LOS ANGELES — The Angel City Football Club has a goal of making the NWSL playoffs in its first season.

With two games left in the regular season, that dream is still alive, thanks in large part to Wednesday night’s 2-1 victory over the Washington Spirit in front of 16,112 at Banc of California Stadium.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Angel City defender Ali Riley said. “Tonight, we needed the three points, we got it and now it’s on to Sunday, we need the three points and we’re going to take them.

“This team plays for so much, not just ourselves, but for our fans and for our city, for all the communities that are supporting us. I think that extra boost of being able to come here and feel that love is kind of our purpose … it’s our why. Of course we felt that love on the road, but to be actually here in this do-or-die scenario on a Wednesday, with that kind of crowd against a really good team, it felt really good.”

The win didn’t come without some stressful moments. In the 87th minute, Washington was given a penalty kick after Ashley Hatch was brought down in the penalty area. Hatch stepped up and buried the kick, then Angel City had to survive four minutes of stoppage time before finally getting to celebrate.

The win, which snapped a four-game winless streak, moves Angel City (8-7-5, 29 points) back into seventh place, one point behind the Chicago Red Stars (8-6-6, 30 points) for the sixth and final playoff spot in the 12-team league. Eighth-place North Carolina (8-8-4, 28 points) is lurking one point behind Angel City, which will face Chicago in a regular-season finale on Oct. 2 in Chicago.

Before that, Angel City has another important home game, Sunday evening against Racing Louisville FC (3-9-8, 17 points).

“For us, we wanted to control the narrative and do everything we can do,” Angel City coach Freya Coombe said. “We’re in L.A. and we’re looking for that Hollywood ending and making sure we get into the playoffs.”

Claire Emslie opened the scoring in the 39th minute with a tap-in of a cross from Riley, which somehow eluded two Washington Spirit defenders.

Six minutes into the second half, Simone Charley extended Angel City’s lead to 2-0 with a header on a cross from Jasmyne Spencer.

This was Angel City’s first league home game since Aug. 14. The club recently completed a stretch of three road games in seven days against Houston, North Carolina and San Diego that netted just one of nine possible points (a 1-1 draw with Houston.)

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