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    Angel City FC playoff berth on the line in season finale
    • October 14, 2023

    In its inaugural season, Angel City Football Club made it to the penultimate game of the season with a shot at making the NWSL playoffs, but ended up on the outside looking in.

    This season, the second-year club heads into the final game of the regular season with another opportunity to make the six-team postseason.

    “I think we’ve approached the last five games or the last part of the season in the same mindset that we have to approach Sunday,” ACFC defender and captain Ali Riley said. “We knew to stay in it (playoff chase) after being in 11th place, we were trying to win every game. We weren’t winning every game, but I think you were able to see that mentality, never give-up and we wanted to get a result out of every single game.

    “We were really disappointed to drop those points at home (1-0, Oct. 2) against Orlando, but you saw that fight come out in Houston (2-1, Oct. 8).”

    There are a lot of scenarios at play for Angel City (7-7-7, 28 points) in Sunday’s regular-season finale at home against the first-place Portland Thorns (10-6-5, 35 points). Entering the final day, only Portland and San Diego Wave FC have clinched a spot and Chicago and Kansas City are the only teams that have been eliminated from contention.

    That means eight teams are still vying for four spots in the playoffs. Angel City, tied for seventh place, has a chance to move all the way up to third or the potential to end the season in 10th.

    To clinch a playoff spot, ACFC will have to defeat the Thorns, who will be trying to win the NWSL Shield as the best team in the regular season. Angel City will also need a win or loss by Washington or a loss or draw by Orlando. Another path to the playoffs: an ACFC win, a draw or loss by OL Reign or a loss by Gotham FC.

    “The away win was massive for us,” Angel City interim coach Becki Tweed said. “You can see the resilience and the belief in this team and if there’s one thing that I think you know from this season is that you can’t count us out.”

    Angel City has never defeated the Thorns in NWSL play. The two wins have come in Challenge Cup last year (1-0, April. 24, 2022) and this year (2-1, July 29).

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    “We know that obviously Portland is a quality side,” Tweed said. “We’ve played them three times season already, the last time we played we came away with a good performance and three points. Even though it was in the Challenge Cup, it was still part of our streak and our second half (run) and we’ll be looking to duplicate that performance.

    “They have threats all over the field, so we’ll be looking to negate their quality and also play to our best potential on the ball. We want to remain being us, that’s what’s got us here and we just have to be the best versions of ourselves.”

    Portland (10-6-5, 35 pts) at Angel City FC (7-7-7, 28 pts)

    When: 2 p.m. Sunday

    Where: BMO Stadium

    TV/radio: Paramount+/iHeart Radio

    ​ Orange County Register