Natalie Portman's Angel City FC: Hollywood celebrity owners, USWNT stars on its roster & all you need to know
Natalie Portman, Serena Williams, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Billie Jean King - those are just a few of the names in Angel City FC's star-studded ownership group, the club having grabbed plenty of headlines since it was founded in 2022.
With a whole host of former U.S. women's national team players also investing in the team - from Mia Hamm to Abby Wambach - the Los Angeles side blends soccer and pop culture in a way that has excited many, particularly with the eye-catching brand being built on top of it all.
GOAL brings you everything you need to know about Angel City FC including who it is owned by, who is on its roster and more.
What is Angel City FC?
Angel City FC is one of the newest franchises in the NWSL, the National Women's Soccer League, which is the top league for women's soccer in the United States. It is based in Los Angeles, California.
The side was announced formally on July 21, 2020, with a lot of recognizable names among its ownership group. Natalie Portman acts as a co-founder and part-owner along with entrepreneur Julie Uhrman and venture capitalists Kara Nortman and Alexis Ohanian, who is married to tennis icon Serena Williams.
“We wanted to make sure that we brought in incredible partners who were from the soccer world, who are leaders in sport, in tech and business and entertainment because that’s really so much what our city is about. Each of us has our special ability to bring to the team,” said Portman.
“It just seems like it was ideal to bring [women’s] soccer to LA because we have such passionate fans here, such robust youth soccer. It’s just an incredible kind of culture shift if we can bring more attention and light and celebration of these incredible athletes.”
Uhrman added: “LA is a city that has a fanatical sports fan base. And obviously, we’ve shown that we have the ability to support multiple teams and multiple different leagues.
“By bringing together this unique group of people, we actually have this ability to engage and promote and not only support the best players, but also grow the league by putting a spotlight on it and hopefully igniting a fire here that will touch other places."
Who owns Angel City FC?
Portman, Nortman, Uhrman and Ohanian are the four co-founders of the club.
After Portman and Nortman met to discuss the possibility of purchasing a women's soccer team - the 'Black Swan' actress is an avid fan of the sport - Nortman suggested that the actress reach out to her fellow Hollywood friends to watch a USWNT game in 2019.
Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria and Jessica Chastain accompanied Portman to the match, which got the ball rolling. Portman's interest in the sport eventually became a business venture after more conversations with Nortman, and the two forged a partnership to bring Angel City FC to life.
In addition to the likes of Aduba, Garner, Longoria and Chastain, other high-profile founding members (who are credited as founding investors on the official club website) of the side include former and current athletes like Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Rachel Van Hollebeke, Shannon Boxx, Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair, Ronnie Fair, Joy Fawcett, Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini, Saskia Webber, Lauren Holiday, and Abby Wambach.
Other Hollywood names who serve as founding members are America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, late-night host James Corden and YouTube stars Lilly Singh and Casey Neistat.
More names have been added to the list over time, such as WNBA star Candace Parker, former NHL defenceman P. K. Subban and NFL quarterback Matthew Stafford, who won the Super Bowl in 2022 with the LA Rams.
King said: "We need everyone to invest in women’s sports and [her partner] Ilana [Kloss] 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.”
When did Angel City start playing in the NWSL?
Angel City FC made its NWSL debut in the Challenge Cup on March 3, 2022, drawing 1-1 with the San Diego Wave. The game was also the Wave's competitive debut, with the fellow California team joining the league at the same time.
Opening the scoring in the 49th minute for her team, Savannah McCaskill was the scorer of Angel City's first ever competitive goal.
SAVANNAH MCCASKILL 💫— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) March 20, 2022
Scores the first goal in @weareangelcity history 🌟 pic.twitter.com/MEJF4AZdbM
The team's league debut followed on April 30, 2022, the date on which the club also won its first ever NWSL regular season match. Vanessa Gilles opened the scoring after only three minutes, writing her name into the history books by netting Angel City FC's first ever NWSL goal, before Japan's Jun Endo scored 10 minutes later to ensure a 2-1 victory over the North Carolina Courage.
Angel City's first ever season saw it knocked out in the group stages of the Challenge Cup while finishing eighth in the NWSL table, just two places and four points off a play-off place.
Where is Angel City FC's stadium?
Angel City FC plays its home game at the BMO (Bank of Montreal) Stadium, formerly known as the Banc of Caifornia Stadium, which is in the Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. It shares the ground with Major League Soccer outfit Los Angeles FC.
The stadium opened on April 18, 2018, and has a capacity of 22,000. It was a venue during the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup and will be used in the 2028 Summer Olympics to host both track and field events as well as men's and women's soccer.
Who is on Angel City FC's roster?
The star name on Angel City FC's roster is undoubtedly Christen Press, a two-time World Cup with the USWNT who was born in LA. Press scored her first goal for the club in May 2022, in a 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit.
Sadly, though, the forward suffered an ACL injury just a month later and is still working her way back from that setback, with the recovery having become a complicated process.
"1 knee. 8 months. 3 surgeries. My unique journey," Press wrote on Instagram on March 1, 2023. "Relentless optimism + enduring hope. Little wins. Letting go."
Also on the roster is Sydney Leroux, who was part of the U.S. teams that won gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics and lifted the 2015 Women's World Cup trophy, and teenage phenom Alyssa Thompson, who made her USWNT debut at the age of 17 in November 2022.
Thompson was drafted at No.1 overall by Angel City in January 2023 and scored the team's first goal of the 2023 season, on her NWSL debut.
Angel City holds the rights for another USWNT star, too, in Julie Ertz. She and her husband, Zach, an NFL star and tight end for the Arizona Cardinals, had their first child in April 2022, a son named Madden Matthew Ertz. The two-time Women's World Cup winner has not yet made her return to the soccer field after giving birth and has therefore not represented the club yet.
There are also stand-out names on Angel City's roster that don't represent the USWNT. Ali Riley is the club captain and also captain of her country, New Zealand. Vanessa Gilles, currently on loan with eight-time European champion Lyon, is an Olympic gold medallist with Canada.
Meanwhile, Jun Endo is one of Japan's most exciting young players and joined the club ahead of their inaugural season, from Tokyo Verdy Beleza.