Sydney Leroux made her long-awaited return to Angel City FC in Monday’s match against the Chicago Red Stars, and she marked the occasion with a goal in her first game back from an ankle injury.
While Angel City fell 2-1, Leroux provided a bright spot for the club in front of their home crowd.
The 33-year-old forward entered as a substitute in the 75th minute, then scored 13 minutes later to get her team on the scoreboard. The goal was her first since May 2022, her first with Angel City and her 40th career NWSL goal.
Sydney Leroux is BACK 😤She scored her 40th regular-season goal in her first match since July 2022 🙌 pic.twitter.com/vmSIaLpk3Q— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) June 6, 2023
Sydney Leroux is BACK 😤She scored her 40th regular-season goal in her first match since July 2022 🙌 pic.twitter.com/vmSIaLpk3Q
Leroux said she knew she was “gonna get there first” when it came to chasing down the ball from Alyssa Thompson, who was credited with the assist on the goal.
Angel City FC acquired Leroux in a trade last June, but she played just three matches with the club before missing the rest of the season with an ankle injury. She underwent surgery for the injury last summer, and she called her return nine months later “super emotional.”
WELCOME BACK @sydneyleroux!! pic.twitter.com/8VuP8hBbuR— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) June 6, 2023
WELCOME BACK @sydneyleroux!! pic.twitter.com/8VuP8hBbuR
“It meant a lot to me,” Leroux said of the goal and of her return. “It’s definitely been an emotional year. I didn’t know if I would be able to put on this jersey again and be able to play the way that I know I can play.
“So to come on, to feel like I’m back, to not have any issues and to play without pain was really special. We wish that the score was a little different, but I think we showed that we can play tough and that’s what we need to do, but for 90 minutes plus.”
She also got to share the moment with her two children, who were with her on the pitch after the game.
“They were such a huge part of my journey coming back,” Leroux said. “We spent a lot of days where they were really helpful. It was really special to share that with them. And, when I scored, [Cassius Leroux] started crying. It’s the most special thing to share that with them tonight.”
While Leroux will remain on a minutes restriction to ensure a safe return, per coach Freya Coombe, her presence provides a boost for Angel City.