Angel City puts on a memorable sight in the franchise’s debut

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As the drum line cut through the crowd heading to Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton, with various flags from different countries and groups of supporters waving through the black and pink smoke, it opened a new chapter in the National Women’s Soccer League .

Entries in Saturday’s inaugural game between San Diego Wave and city ​​of angels in the NWSL Challenge Cup was a sea of ​​pink T-shirts and sweatshirts, with United States Women’s National Team kits strewn throughout.

The pre-season game ended in a tie as Savannah McCaskill opened the scoring when she put Angel City ahead in the 49th minute, until San Diego’s Kaleigh Riehl tied it in the 81st minute.

Although neither club was in their home stadium, it was clear that Angel City had the advantage of a home crowd before the doors opened.

“We were talking about it before we went out for kick-off, during warm-ups we couldn’t hear each other talk, which is unbelievable,” McCaskill said of the crowd’s energy. “For a Challenge Cup game, a pre-season game that’s not even in our home stadium yet, it’s an incredible atmosphere.”

Heather Borjon, a teacher at Moreno Valley Middle School, was waiting for the moment when a professional women’s soccer club would come to Southern California.

For her honeymoon in 2019, Borjon and her husband followed the United States Women’s National Team to every city in France on their quest to win the World Cup.

It was on this trip that Borjon learned that an expansion team was going to be rooted in his home country. It was then that the idea of ​​creating a group of supporters germinated.

Groups of Angel City FC supporters cheer on the team during their first match on Saturday.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Young footballers Parker Schumacher, left, and Taylor Mendoza attend the Angel City match.

Young footballers Parker Schumacher, left, and Taylor Mendoza attend Angel City’s game against the San Diego Wave on Saturday.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

“We are just pumped. We’ve been supporting the United States Women’s National Team for so long that we wanted a team here,” Borjon said. “Unfortunately I missed out when the LA Sol was here, but it’s cool that now I have the chance to support women’s sports and watch my students have a place to go, who want these girls to be role models. .”

Today, she is vice-president of Angel City Valkyries, which is one of six dedicated supporter groups for Angel City. As the rebellion 99 and Angel CityPode Rosas commanded a section, the San Diego Sirens kept a few rows to their growing group on the opposite side.

Googie Daniels, a San Diego native and president of the San Diego Sirens supporters group, carpooled through Orange County with other San Diego Wave fans to witness the start of a budding rivalry between the two clubs .

Angel City players celebrate the first goal in franchise history against the San Diego Wave on Saturday.

Angel City players celebrate the first goal in franchise history against the San Diego Wave on Saturday.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

“I think new teams and more teams in the NWSL is just a good thing for everyone. We’re obviously going to have this great camaraderie and relationship,” Daniels said.

She has collaborated with several Angel City ACFC fan groups since the San Diego wave was announced in November.

“We want to support the players,” Daniels said. “We can have fun rivalries, but no one will ever go overboard. Just knowing you can go into an environment where everyone just wants to support professional women’s football, that’s it.

Justin Kennally was invited to Saturday’s game by friends. The national team jersey he wore with the name of Angel City striker Christen Press belonged to a friend, but he was all-in for the new Los Angeles team.

“I think it’s great for the city and I think it’s great for women’s sports,” Kennally said. “I saw a lot of young girls here today and they are obviously super excited; just having someone to look up to and a team to look up to in their hometown is really important.

A new movement in women’s sport has been sparked by inspiration after Oscar winner Natalie Portman watched the United States women’s soccer team at the 2019 World Cup, only to be fueled by generations of fans who want to see more women’s sports in the spotlight.

As both clubs continue to establish themselves in their respective cities, the fan support that filled the stadium made players and managers even more eager to begin their new path.

“It definitely helps the team,” said Angel City head coach Freya Coombe. “We want the city to support us and it was great to have the home support that we had, very vocal and brilliant.”

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