When you think of club versus country, it usually comes down to a player balancing the responsibilities of two teams or an unrealistic matchup in a FIFA video game. This September in Los Angeles, however, we will have a true club vs. country match between Angel City FC and the Mexican women’s national team. On Monday, the NWSL club and the Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF), along with Soccer United Marketing, will announce a new multi-year partnership: the Copa Angelina.
“A professional team playing against a national team speaks to the opportunity women’s soccer has to position itself on the world stage,” Angel City team president Julie Uhrman said on a call with the athletic. “Focusing on top talent and bringing different communities together to not only showcase an amazing product on the field, but also the impact you can have off the field.”
The match will take place on Labor Day, September 5 at 6 pm PT, and will also air on Univision in the US and Mexico. There will also be a fan festival outside Banc of California Stadium, with a musical performance to be announced.
Novelty will no doubt be a factor, building on previous matches between NWSL and Liga MX Femenil clubs. Angel City also has some of them on deck, having announced last month that they signed a two-year partnership with Tigres that includes friendlies back and forth.
But the most fascinating thing about the Angelina Cup is that it will take place during a FIFA window (which runs from August 29 to September 6). Angel City might be losing a handful of their players for their national team responsibilities, but Mexico will miss an international match that would count towards their FIFA qualification to play in the Angelina Cup.
For FMF sporting director Gerardo Torrado, skipping an international friendly date to travel to Los Angeles was worth it for multiple reasons.
“With our new extension with SUM (Soccer United Marketing), it was a great opportunity to start establishing the (Mexico) women’s national team brand in the US,” said Torrado. the athletic. “First of all, it was a great opportunity to play against a very important team from the United States. Then, one of our pillars is to give our teams competitive matches, and that is what we are going to achieve by playing against Angel City. It is a good opportunity to give them an important match, so that they continue to prepare, hopefully, for the World Cup and the Olympic Games as well”.
FMF signed a six-year extension with US-based Soccer United Marketing in May, with plans for the MLS- and USSF-affiliated group to increase its involvement with Mexico’s women’s and youth national teams. The Mexico women’s team has received good support over the years as a fairly regular USWNT opponent, but the Angelina Cup presents a very different opportunity: a game they’ll help control, help the market, and a stadium full of fans. . A packed crowd at the Banc would also be a pretty decent financial return in taking the risk of playing this game during the international window.
“We want to be as high as possible (in the FIFA rankings),” he said, and the decision was not taken lightly, but he sees this game as a piece of the puzzle in the overall growth of the team, both on the pitch like in football. as a brand, which can help unlock additional matches for the team in the future. Mexico is currently ranked 26th in the world by FIFA.
Weather was also a factor for Angel City. With the Challenge Cup and then the regular season, plus the big international load in July, Uhrman said it made more sense for him at various levels to consider later in the season.
“Realistically, being an expansion team in our first year, we didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew,” he said. “We didn’t want to burden the team with a tournament that would require a lot of extra games on what is already a congested schedule. This allowed us to do something meaningful and then build for the future with more visibility with what’s coming up in 2023 and 2024 for the league.”
As for that potential growth, additional teams could be added in the future, prize money will be added, and other locations will be considered. While there are reasons for Angel City and FMF to further their own interests, they have also invested in branding around the Angelina Cup. The tournament logo design points to both Los Angeles and Mexico City with influences from the architecture of Los Angeles’ Plaza del Mariachi and Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi, with the laurel wreath as a nod to the Monument. to the Angel of Independence in Mexico City.
Angel City and FMF couldn’t have asked for a better entry into the Angelina Cup than Mexico hosting the upcoming CONCACAF W Championship and all eyes on World Cup and Olympic qualification, plus the NWSL playing through July. There will be plenty of opportunities for everyone involved in the Copa Angelina to work together and build a buzz around the match and the partnership, and for Mexico to make the desired inroads into the US market on the women’s side.
“It has been a great project, to see how the men’s team has been growing, how they give emotions to all Mexicans who live in the United States,” said Torrado. “Now we want to do it with the women’s team as well. It is a great opportunity to share how the level of the women’s game has been growing in Mexico and bring it closer to all the Mexicans who are living here”.
“It’s about creating awareness and attention for these players, right?” Uhrmann said. “Whether they’re from Angel City or the Mexican national team, or any other player in the NWSL. This gives us the opportunity to give players the visibility and attention they deserve, so the fan base can grow.”
(Top photo: FMF)