Angel City's struggles follow them into Olympic break with loss to Gotham FC

First-half goals from Rose Lavelle and Delanie Sheehan lifted NJ/NY Gotham FC to a 2-1 win over Angel City in front of an announced crowd of 16,542 at BMO Stadium on Saturday.

Claire Emslie scored Angel City’s only goal on a penalty kick in the 69th minute. It was the team’s first goal in three games and 254 minutes.

The crowd was the smallest of the season and the second-smallest in Angel City history. The team came into the weekend leading the league in average home attendance at 19,865.

With the loss, the team’s third straight, Angel City (4-9-3) skidded into the NWSL’s seven-week Olympic break having won only once in nine games dating to early May, falling to 11th in the league standings, three points out of the eighth and final playoff berth.

Lavelle, who was dangerous for most of the 60 minutes she played, tested Angel City goalkeeper DiDi Haracic twice — once with each foot — in the third minute before scoring for Gotham (9-3-4) 13 minutes later.

The play started with a long pass ricocheting off Angel City’s Rocky Rodríguez. Sheehan controlled the loose ball and sent it back the other way, starting a five-pass sequence that ended with Crystal Dunn feeding Lavelle in the middle box. From there she had an easy finish for her fifth goal of the season.

Sheehan, a Hermann Trophy semifinalist at UCLA, doubled the lead just before halftime, scoring into an empty goal after Ella Stevens drew Haracic to the top of the six-yard box, then sent a low, left-footed pass to a wide-open Sheehan for her first of the season.

That was one of seven shots on target for Gotham in a first half the reigning NWSL champions dominated.

Angel City, which didn’t put its first shot on goal until the opening seconds of the second half, played much better after the intermission with Emslie giving the team late life with her team-leading sixth goal of the season after Gisele Thompson was taken down in the box by Gotham’s Mandy Freeman.

Thompson left the game after drawing the foul.

Haracic finished with seven saves, matching her season high.

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