Angel City kicks off debut NWSL season with historic first match

Lizzy Becherano
 Angel City FC made history in recording their first ever NWSL victory during debut.
Angel City FC made history in recording their first ever NWSL victory during debut. / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

Angel City FC made history on Friday night. 

The expansion team marked their NWSL debut with a 2-1 triumph over the North Carolina Courage in front of 22,000 fans at Banc of California Stadium. Goals from Vanessa Gilles and Jun Endo canceled out Debora Cristiane de Oliveira’s 51st minute strike, earning Angel City their first three points of regular-season play. 

It was a star-studded event in Los Angeles, as fans and investors rallied behind the newest NWSL side.

“The crowd was unreal tonight,” Angel City head coach Freya Coombe said. “Their energy, enthusiasm, and support for the players and for the coaching staff was felt throughout the night. It’s the best environment that I’ve ever coached in.”

“The crowd was not silent tonight, at any moment, ever,” North Carolina Courage coach Sean Nahas added in praise of the 22,000 that attended.

Angel City was first created after Natalie Portman, Kara Nortman and Julie Uhrman were awarded the franchise in July 2020. Since then, the team found investors like Gabrielle Union, Eva Longoria, Sophia Bush and Jennifer Garner to fund the side into reality. 

The leading investor remains tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian. 

"I don't know football, I don't understand it - soccer, or whatever the heck we call it these days - but I do understand women supporting women," said investor Jennifer Garner prior to kickoff. 

"And I do understand really celebrating the heroes that all of you are to our kids -- boys and girls. To having a little boy look out there and say 'I wanna play as well as she does someday, she's my absolute hero, I want her on my lunchbox.' I love that. It is so time. It is absolutely time and I can't believe we actually get to have this moment tonight.”

The team also sold more than 15,400 season tickets before debuting in the NWSL.  

"This is a day that has been two years in the making and we are beyond thrilled that it is finally here," ACFC team president and co-founder Julie Uhrman told City News Service. 

"This is a moment in time when people are finally seeing the value of women's sports. Our fans are incredible. We sold thousands of season tickets before we even had one player let alone a full roster and that is meaningful. It shows that this city is hungry for women's soccer and that these athletes deserve this kind of attention and fandom."

Angel City continues its debut season on Sunday when taking on the Orlando Pride at Banc of California Stadium.