EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Team name? Check.
Head coach? Check.
Players? Angel City FC needs some of those.
It had been over a decade since the most recent professional women’s soccer team in LA, the Los Angeles Sol of the WPS, was dissolved. And fans of the game were chomping at the bit to receive a National Women’s Soccer League team.
In July 2020, Los Angeles fans were rewarded. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that they would be known as Angel City FC and that they would begin play in the spring of 2022 at Banc of California Stadium.
Subsequently, the powerhouse ownership, driven by Julie Uhrman, the co-founder and president, was announced. Uhrman founded the team with venture capitalists Kara Nortman and Alexis Ohanian and Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman.
“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,” Portman said in a 2020 press release. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles. Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field, but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base. We also hope to make a substantive impact on our community, committing to extending access to sports for young people in Los Angeles through our relationship with the LA84 Foundation. Sports are such a joyful way to bring people together, and this has the power to make tangible change for female athletes both in our community and in the professional sphere.”
Other notable owners include 23-time grand slam tennis champion Serena Williams and her then two-year-old daughter Olympia, who is the youngest owner in all of sports, along with actresses Jessica Chastain, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner and America Ferrera.
The ownership group also consists of 14 former USWNT players, including Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy.
Over the summer, the team found their coach, former Gotham FC head coach Freya Coombe, and unveiled their home kits last month.
Along the way, the team has obtained sponsorships from DoorDash, Gatorade, Cedars-Sinai, Therabody, Birdies and Ritual.
So the last thing that has to be done is to build the team that will take the field in just a few short months. And ACFC got a little head start doing so.
In August, ACFC acquired the rights to USWNT star forward and SoCal native Christen Press.
“The dream of being a pro player in LA was always elusive for me,” Press told the LA Times. “Every team that I’ve played for has always been like, ‘You know, when LA gets a team, we promise we’ll send you there.’ And it always felt everyone’s been able to say that because no one knew when it was happening.”
“For it to really be happening, to be able to bring professional soccer back to Los Angeles and to be a part of that team, is nothing but a dream come true,” Press said. “A dream that didn’t even feel possible for the majority of my career.”
Angel City had to send its 2022 first-round pick and $75,000 in allocation money to Racing Louisville to get Press, but it was worth the high price. Press, who is a two-time World Cup champion and ninth on the United States’ all-time goal-scoring list, ranks fifth all time in NWSL goals scored (45), without playing in a league match since November 2019.
So all that’s left is to fill out the rest of the roster and that starts with the expansion draft on Thursday, Dec. 16. So how does that all work? Here are a few rules:
- Each team, excluding San Diego Wave FC, participating in the expansion draft, can protect nine total players on their roster, but only one of them can be a U.S. allocated player (players whose salaries are paid by the U.S. Soccer Federation).
- Racing Louisville FC has full roster protection from ACFC, which was part of the Christen Press deal.
- The Kansas City Current, who took over the Utah Royals’ roster in 2020, is exempt from the expansion draft as part of a deal with the league. But that exemption is a tradeable asset.
- The nine teams who have to submit their protected players list have to do so by Dec. 10.
- Angel City and San Diego can only pick one player from each team and no more than one U.S. allocated player total.
- The expansion teams will each be given $150K in allocation money if they do not select a U.S. allocated player. If they do select a U.S. allocated player, then they will have to give that money to the team they took them from.
- A full list of rules can be found here.
So who will ACFC pick to play alongside Christen Press? Will another star forward from the national team like Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh, Sophia Smith or Lindsey Horan be available? Or will the team want to shore up their back line if someone like Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, Emily Sonnett or Tierna Davidson is available?
Another route the team could take is to stock up on unprotected talent who aren’t U.S. allocated players and then save the $150,000 in allocation money for a big trade.
There are many directions that this team could go, but one thing is for sure — LA is where the stars come to play, and fans will want the team to make an impact in the Angel City.
Statistics, rules and bios provided by: angelcity.com, cbssports.com, latimes.com, nwslsoccer.com, yahoo.com, justwomenssports.com and si.com.