Angel City FC will play its first game tonight, facing fellow expansion team San Diego Wave FC in a group play game of the NWSL Challenge Cup at Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton.
``I've been waiting for my entire professional career to be able to come back and play at home and I think for the majority of my career, I didn't think that was going to be a reality,'' said ACFC forward Christen Press, who bwas raised in Palos Verdes Estates and played on the U.S. teams that won the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. ``I was lucky growing up in Southern California to watch the 99ers win the World Cup in person. I was lucky to go out to the games and watch professional soccer here and in San Diego previously.
``It kind of felt like a long way away before we would ever have an L.A. team. I think the whole universe knew I wanted to come back, play, and be at home and represent this amazing city that's given me so much.'' The alumnus of Chadwick School on the Palos Verdes Peninsula was the first player acquired by ACFC, obtained Aug. 23, 2021, in a trade with Racing Louisville. Press is among four ACFC players to have played for high schools in Los Angeles or Orange counties, along with defender Ali Riley (Harvard- Westlake) and midfielders Lily Nabet (Chaminade) and Dani Weatherholt (San Clemente).
San Diego Wave FC is led by Alex Morgan, a Diamond Bar High alumnus who was a teammate of Press on the U.S. teams that won the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cups. The 6 p.m. game will be streamed by Paramount+. The top team from each of the three four-team groups will advance to the semifinals, along with the highest placing second-place finisher. The semifinals will be played May 4 and championship May 7.m The tournament was initially played in 2020 as the league's return to action following the cancellation of the season due to the coronavirus pandemicn and was the first professional team sports event to return to play in the United States.
It was intended to be a one-time only event, but has since become an annual event. It is similar to the cup competitions held throughout the world concurrent with the league season. ACFC is scheduled to open the regular season April 29 at its usual home, Banc of California Stadium, against the North Carolina Courage. It has sold nearly 15,000 season tickets, a team official said. A group led by Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, and tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian was awarded the franchise in 2020 by the National Women's Soccer League.
Tennis greats Serena Williams, who is married to Ohanian, and Billie Jean King, actresses Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria and Gabrielle Union, singer-songwriter Christina Aguilera and talk show host James Corden would later be among the additions to ACFC's ownership group.