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Angel City’s defense is broken. Rookie Madison Curry can only fill so many cracks.

The young defender wasn’t supposed to be the team’s all-action stopgap. But key injuries have forced Curry into the spotlight under manager Becki Tweed.

6 min read

Rare are the seasons where a fourth-round draft pick may determine the success or failure of your club. That’s exactly where Angel City FC have found themselves. 

When the 2024 regular season began, head coach Becki Tweed assumed that a backline of Sarah Gorden, Paige Nielsen, M.A. Vignola, and some mixture of Ali Riley, Merritt Mathias and Jasymne Spencer would build upon the success of the organization’s first-ever playoff run the year before. Indeed, Riley rounded out the group that stepped onto the field at BMO Stadium to face Bay FC in the first game of the year on March 17th.

The outlook is entirely different now. Angel City currently sit 12th in the table on points. They’re conceding 1.6 non-penalty goals per game, which puts them 12th in the league. They’re conceding 1.7 non-penalty xG per game, which puts them – you guessed it – 12th in the league. The defense has been bad, not unlucky.

Vignola was lost to a knee injury for weeks. Riley missed some time, as well. Nielsen was traded to the Houston Dash and defensive midfielder Amandine Henry was shipped to the Utah Royals in order to make room for Christen Press’s potential reactivation. Perhaps most disheartening was Gorden’s injury early in their road match against the Washington Spirit last month.

How was the team expected to develop any kind of defensive consistency with this much roster movement?

Into the spotlight was thrust Madison Curry. The 23-year-old fullback out of Princeton was taken 51st in a 56-player NWSL draft this past January. With so much depth in front of her (including the 18-year-old Gisele Thompson), few expected Curry to make any type of impact on Angel City’s roster this season.

They, and she, have had no choice. Curry slotted in at left back when Vignola hit the trainer’s table. Then just as Vignola returned to the squad, Gordon went down in a move that opened a spot at center back, a position Curry hadn’t played since high school. 

For Angel City to stop the bleeding, they must now rely upon somebody who was very much expected to ride the bench for the entire season.

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