LOS ANGELES (December 16, 2021) - Today, Angel City Football Club (ACFC) confirmed the signing of Vanessa Gilles, a Canadian National Team defender, to the ACFC roster ahead of the 2022 inaugural season. Gilles has signed a one-year deal with an option for an additional year with ACFC and will make her NWSL debut from Division1 Féminine team FC Girondins de Bordeaux, where she has played since July 2018. In exchange, Bordeaux will receive an agreed-upon transfer fee, signaling ACFC’s commitment to building a club including players with international playing experience.
"We are delighted to welcome Vanessa Gilles to Angel City FC," said ACFC Sporting Director Eni Aluko. "Vanessa has established herself as one of the leading central defenders globally with notably inspirational performances at the 2020 Olympics in Japan this past summer that helped lead Canada to a Gold Medal. Vanessa has a lot of experience playing in a strong league in France and will bring competitiveness, winning desire, experience, and leadership to Angel City. Vanessa's commitment to gender equity, pay equity, and female empowerment are also perfectly aligned with our club, and we are excited to get started."
"I'm incredibly excited to be joining Angel City FC and get to represent such an amazing project,” said Gilles. “I'd like to thank Bordeaux for giving me the opportunity to grow as a player and a person, my agents with whom we were able to make the right decisions over the years, and Angel City for believing in me to wear that special crest."
“Angel City signs a quality player who fits perfectly into the club’s ethos. She is a fantastic human being and inspirational leader who leaves an important legacy in Bordeaux,” said Bordeaux Sporting Director Francisco Fardilha.
Montréal-born Gilles, a 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist with Team Canada, Gilles made her first appearance with the National Team in 2019 in an international friendly against Switzerland made her tournament debut in November 2019 at the 2019 Yongchuan International Tournament in a 3-0 win over New Zealand. Since then, she has made 11 appearances with the Canadian National Team, including one in the 2020 Summer Olympic Quarterfinals, where she converted Canada's final penalty kick for a victory in Tokyo. This crucial kick set the team up for a gold medal win against Sweden.
Gilles grew up with tennis as her first love and started playing soccer in 10th grade, having never touched a soccer ball in her life. Right out of the gate, she so impressed head coach Joé Fournier he proclaimed, "She was phenomenal. Like, unbelievable!" and gave her a spot on the team. Following a successful career in high school, she was recruited to play for the University of Cincinnati from her club team and received a full-ride scholarship from the school. Her numerous accolades include the 2014 American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team and the 2017 American Athletic Conference Co-Defender of the Year award.
Following college, Gilles joined League1 Ontario team West Ottawa SC. She scored two goals in the regular season in her nine appearances with the team and was selected to the 2017 League1 Ontario All-Star third team. She was also chosen to represent League1 Ontario in the All-Star game against the Team Ontario squad competing in the 2017 Canada Games. In early 2018, she signed with Apollon Ladies FC of the Cypriot First Division in Cyprus, scored ten goals in 14 games, and won the 2018 Cypriot Cup. In 2018, Gilles made 11 appearances with Apollon and scored ten goals. In late 2018, she moved to France to play for Division1 Féminine team FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
Gilles will debut with the forthcoming Angel City roster under Head Coach Freya Coombe in Spring 2022 in Los Angeles at The Banc of California Stadium.
Today's news precedes Angel City's roster-building milestones of the 2022 NWSL Expansion Draft on December 16 and the 2022 NWSL Draft on December 18.