When Angel City and San Diego meet on Sunday night (8pm ET/5pm PT, Paramount+), it will be the latest chapter in the NWSL’s California rivalry.
It will also mark a multi-generational battle featuring veteran stars and some of the league’s most exciting up-and-comers.
On the veteran side, fans could see longtime USWNT teammates Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz go head-to-head for the first time in almost four years after Ertz signed with Angel City this week.
“(Julie) has played on some of the best teams and represented the U.S. in some of the biggest moments. That experience alone is going to be huge for our team,” Angel City midfielder Savannah McCaskill said of her new teammate.
But experience isn’t everything — especially after NWSL rules changed in 2022 to allow some U18 players to sign with teams. San Diego’s Jaedyn Shaw, 18, and Angel City’s Alyssa Thompson, 18, are two of the most exciting members of the next generation.
“I think it’s about time that America got to the same standard as everybody else around the world,” San Diego head coach Casey Stoney said of the NWSL age limit change. “I’m a big believer that, if they’re talented enough, they’re old enough. But also, you need to protect them, look after them, manage them, and make sure they’re still a young person in your environment. … It’s also about making sure that the clubs are equipped to look after young people, holistically.”
Thompson was called into USWNT camp earlier this month after Mallory Swanson went down with an injury and could contend for World Cup roster spot. Asked what it means for a rising talent like Thompson to go head-to-head against a veteran USWNT star like Alex Morgan during Sunday night’s NWSL rivalry game, Stoney chose her words carefully.
“I’m not here trying to put pressure on an 18-year-old,” Stoney said. “I think she’s hit the ground running exceptionally well, she’s shown in her performances for Angel City so far. But I think the worst thing we could do right now is heap a country’s expectations on an 18-year-old player so I’m not going to do that.”