Updated: Nov 19, 2020
It happened a few weeks ago, but the newest addition to the National Women’s Soccer League finally settled on their official name - and it’s the one you already know.
On October 20th, Angel City FC announced their official name, and it may come as no surprise that they are sticking with that working title. Angel City Football Club has joined the NWSL as their eleventh team, and will take to the pitch in 2022.
The club also announced additions to their founding investors group, including tennis legend Billie Jean King and her partner Ilana Kloss, WNBA legend Candace Parker and her daughter Lailaa, Gold Medalist Lindsay Vonn, actress Sophia Bush, and former MLS player and current sports broadcaster Cobi Jones.
2022 is a long way away, and hopefully this pandemic is well under control by then so that we can all attend these first matches for Los Angeles’ first women’s soccer team since 2010, but for now, we have to take what we can get in the form of every bit of news they release. The club has yet to announce an official crest, or where in Los Angeles they’ll play, and next year’s NWSL Expansion Draft will be the first chance the club have to build their squad.
Just the mere prospect of having a team in LA, a place where people of all ages and genders can watch elite female athletes playing a game that is so beloved by the city, is exciting in ways that are difficult to articulate.
“We need everyone to invest in women’s sports and Ilana and I are proud to stand with the Angel City FC ownership group and help make new history in Southern California sports. Angel City's mission to make an impact on and off-the field, and to provide an opportunity to some of the best professional female athletes in the world to play on a stage as powerful as Los Angeles, sends a strong message to young girls in the community and beyond,” said Billie Jean King of her involvement with the club.
That’s exactly what this club will do - make an impact - as they have announced they will require their corporate partners to re-allocate 10% of the value of their sponsorships to local causes. The club had already announced their partnerships with LA84 and and the Play Equity Fund to support sports opportunities in under-served communities. Even the official supporters group, Rebellion 99, recently announced that they’ve become a non-profit 501(c) incorporation to further support the community and affiliated with The Plastics Supporters Group, a group that promotes, supports, and advocates for women, trans, nonbinary, and queer-identifying fans of MLS.
These little things, while small now, will eventually build up to bigger actions once the club becomes a real thing and not just logos on t-shirts and Instagram posts.
To be honest, I had hoped for a better name when they announced the team back in July. Angel City FC, while nice and a literal translation of the city of Los Angeles, feels a little like playing into the stereotype that female athletes have to be “angels.”
A friend and I spoke about this back in July when the team was first announced, players are often stuck into the “role model” framing and when they do things that don’t fit into that framing - like when the US Women’s National Team cheered following every goal against Thailand in last year’s World Cup - they’re often criticized for not acting in the correct, sporting fashion. I fear that the name Angel City will only support this system, holding these women to this standard that they must be “angels” because that’s what the team will be.
That they stuck with the Angel City moniker because it adheres to the feminine and “lady-like” standards that society often expects out of women in the public eye. That they must be good looking, on top of their talents, that they must be put together and well mannered.
Honestly, I hope that the team that Angel City FC eventually builds is full of brawlers and dark artists, players unafraid to get their shins or knees or kits dirty to gain the advantage. I hope that they are the opposite of angels.
2022 is still a long way away and though there is no changing it at this point, my highest hopes are that maybe I’m thinking too deeply about the name. There is so much good to be done by this club, and opportunities that they bring with them that it would be disappointing to see them fall into that stereotype they seem to be setting themselves up for.
There is still work to be done in women’s sports, especially in dispelling these outdated standards. If there is anything that women’s sports needs, it’s more women who challenge those archetypes. Los Angeles is progressive in so many other ways, and home to so many legendary athletes, artists, and women. If there is any club, and any city, that can use this platform to show the complexities of being a female athlete, it would be Angel City.
For now, I am happy to include some Angel City shirts with my Houston Dash merchandise and their brand new crest too. Even with the dorky name and potentially regressive standards.