Mary Alice “M.A.” Vignola has been on the long road to recovery during the inaugural season for Angel City FC.
Vignola joined Angel City, during the offseason after two years in Iceland, but was sidelined with a torn labrum in her right hip.
“I got injured in one of my first games in Iceland this past season, about a year ago,” she said. “I immediately knew that something had happened, but I just continued to play on it for that whole season.
“Then I came back here and after a three-month pause, I was still having pain, but we’ll see how it goes. That first week of training with Angel City, I was like this is tough. I was kind of at a point where I could try to play through it and stick with the pain or get it fixed, so I decided to get it fixed.”
Up until a couple of weeks ago, Vignola was a fixture on the Angel City (7-5-4, 25 points) availability report, but finally made her way back to the field, coming on as a sub in Monday’s Copa Angelina game against the Mexican national team.
“It was a little bit longer than I kind of expected,” Vignola said of the recovery. “I kind of knew and had a timeline in my head of what the process coming back was going to be, but I’ve never been out this long, so it’s definitely been a mental journey. It’s been tough, about six months. I just got cleared about a month ago, so coming back is exciting.”
Vignola, who played at Tennessee from 2016-19, was acquired by Angel City in a trade with the Washington Spirit. She was the second player the club signed, preceded by Christen Press.
While playing in Iceland, Vignola scored eight goals in 30 games for Valur.
“Rehab was tough,” she said. “The beginning was a little bit of excitement because I knew I was healed and I knew I had time to get back into it and get my strength back. Then as the months went on, I was like, ‘OK, there’s going to be times when I know I’m going to have to be mentally strong,’ and those days were definitely tough. Comparing myself to players, going back and forth if can I really do this and can I push myself to the limits and get back to where I know I can be.
“Those days, I had to keep telling myself, ‘I’m doing this for myself, I’m this for my team, I’m coming back from them and this is what I want to do.’ Having a positive mindset was my biggest asset on this journey.”
Vignola finally got her chance at her debut coming on against Mexico.
“I definitely had the nerves before,” she said of the game. “Once I got out there and I was on the sideline and I was with the girls, I was comfortable and this was a safe space. I know that there’s going to be mistakes, but I know that I’ve taken these six months to get to this point and to play against an amazing team like Mexico and in that stadium with 18,000 people, it was a thrill.”
Angel City FC at Houston Dash
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: PNC Stadium, Houston
TV: Paramount+, Bally Sports SoCal