LOS ANGELES – Whether it’s speaking out against gun violence or rolling the streets of Hollywood Boulevard for the return of the LA Pride Parade, Angel City Football Club has taken Los Angeles by storm and completely immersed itself in the city’s community during their performance. . the first few months of operation.
On July 21, 2020, the National Women’s Football League announced that an expansion franchise would be coming to Los Angeles for the 2022 season, ending a more than 10-year drought in women’s professional football in the area.
Then, on April 29, 2022, Angel City officially took to the field for their first regular season game at Bank of California Stadium, playing in front of a sold-out crowd of 22,000.
The long-awaited resurgence of women’s professional football in Los Angeles helped set a new NWSL opening day attendance record of 10,000 fans per game in the entire league. According to Soccer America, the previous high was 7,880 fans per game in 2016.
However, the city’s excitement doesn’t end there, as Angel City continues to attract large fan followings with an average home attendance of around 19,000 per night, the highest average among the league’s 12 teams.
“The attendance here was world class,” said Angel City defender Allison Swaby. “You don’t see numbers like that for a game anywhere, so it was great to see so many fans at our games here.”
(Video by Vic Samuels/Cronkite News)
It’s not just Los Angeles residents who are paying attention.
Jane Campbell, goaltender for the Houston Dash and US women’s soccer team, understands the importance of expansion and what having a team in Los Angeles could potentially do for the rest of the league.
“Angel City literally put NWSL on the line,” Campbell said. “Based solely on the stadium, the fans, their set-up – it’s growing the league – and it’s just unbelievable.”
Helping to make this possible is an all-star, female-led group that aims to make a meaningful impact both on and off the field, and provides a platform for young girls in and out of society.
The team was co-founded by actress Natalie Portman and currently has over 100 investors, including Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Garner, Mia Hamm, Billie Jean King, Eva Longoria, Candice Parker, Abby Wambach, Serena Williams and many more.
“Honestly, I think it’s just one more step for little girls to see that they can make their dream come true,” Angel City midfielder Lily Nabet said. “Especially in a place like Los Angeles where we’re trying to develop this community and vision for young athletes.”
Along with Angel City, the league also introduced the San Diego Wave for the 2022 season.
The league has 12 teams, compared to 28 for the top tier of men’s professional football in the United States, Major League Soccer.
“We are young,” Campbell said. “It’s hard to compare us to MLS right now just because they’re so far ahead, but they’ve obviously built a great product and are continuing to grow because of that.”
During the first six weeks of the season, Angel City (4-3-1) is fourth in the rankings and San Diego Wave (4-2-3) is top of the table.
With the league seeing immediate success with its two new expansion teams, the league will continue to consider expansion in the near future, with Atlanta and Salt Lake City named strong contenders in a long list of potential markets.