A byproduct of ambition is that improvement is constantly courted, and there are few NWSL teams more ambitious than Angel City FC. From their celebrity ownership to bringing Christen Press back home as their first ever signing, the club aims high. With Press out for the season to an ACL injury, they sprung into action again and finalized a trade for former USWNT-star Sydney Leroux.
Leroux had been with Orlando Pride since 2018 and endured numerous tumultuous seasons, including the current one in which first year NWSL head coach Amanda Cromwell is currently on administrative leave while the league investigates reports of retaliation. Through it all, Leroux remained one of the hardest working forwards in the NWSL, even returning to the lineup just three months after giving birth.
Fit with ACFC
While Angel City has had a solid start to the season and currently sit in the final playoff spot, it hasn’t been the year they anticipated from the start. Injuries to key defensive signings Sarah Gorden and Paige Nielsen scuttled their plans for a back 3 formation that would give wingers Christen Press and Jun Endo acres of space to operate.
Through the formation and style changes, Press took on responsibilities beyond goalscoring. She pressed hard, tracked back, put in tackles and began dropping into midfield spaces to progress the ball. Losing Press for the season hurt beyond a marquee goalscoring forward — she was central to the team’s identity.
Given all Press had taken on, there are few more natural replacements than Sydney Leroux. Whether through frustration or tactics, Leroux has become a rare box-to-box forward. She’s a clever goalscorer who’s adept at getting into pockets of space in and around defenses, but will also track back into midfield and even the defensive third to add resistance or recover the ball.
On all fronts this is a smart pickup for Angel City, even if it came at the cost of 2024’s first-round draft pick and a package of allocation money that could climb close to $100,000 if all incentives are met. Still, Angel City had to do something, and though not as popular as Press, Leroux is a marquee name who is good enough to keep them in the playoff picture.
Then, if you’re like me and are sick of living in a world in which Christen Press has a torn ACL, join me in imagining the potential for a Christen Press and Sydney Leroux throwback connection in 2023.