Angel City FC comes up empty in North Carolina

CARY, N.C. — Angel City FC’s path to a playoff berth hit another pothole on Wednesday night, as the expansion club dropped a 1-0 decision against the North Carolina Courage at WakeMed Soccer Stadium.

With both teams battling to position themselves for one of the six postseason berths in the 12-team NWSL, Angel City (7-6-5, 26 points) saw its five-game unbeaten streak come to an end as surging North Carolina (7-7-4, 25 points) won for the fifth time in six matches and moved within one point of ACFC in the standings.

With four regular-season matches left, Angel City sits two points behind sixth-place OL Reign (7-4-7, 28 points), but there are just six points separating Angel City and first-place Kansas City (9-4-5) in a tightly bunched table.

After a scoreless first half, North Carolina broke through when Brazilian attacker Kerolin Nicoli scored in the 54th minute on a tap-in from fellow Brazilian Debinha.

Angel City pushed for an equalizer, but North Carolina brought on an additional defender to help stifle the visitors and complete the shutout.

Angel City, which could have severely damaged North Carolina’s postseason hopes with a win, faces another quick turnaround. The team completes a stretch of three road matches in seven days with a match against San Diego Wave FC (9-6-4, 31 points) on Saturday night at San Diego State’s new Snapdragon Stadium.

Earlier this month, the Wave announced they had sold 32,000 tickets for that match, enough to surpass the league record of 25,218 set by the Portland Thorns in a 2019 match at Providence Park.

No first-year expansion club has ever made the playoffs in the NWSL, but third-place San Diego and seventh-place Angel City are attempting to change that.