(Image courtesy of NJ/NY Gotham FC twitter)
On Sunday, after the break for international play, NJ/NY Gotham FC nearly eked out a win against an undefeated Orlando Pride squad. Holding onto a 1-0 lead through the 90th minute, Gotham ultimately gave up a goal to the Pride, and had to settle for 1 point on the match instead of 3.
Gotham was missing key starters Midge Purce and Carli Lloyd, neither of whom traveled with the team after seeing action for the USWNT over the break.
Caprice Dydasco scored Gotham’s only goal in the 44th minute. Évelyne Viens stripped Ali Krieger of the ball on the left side and dribbled down the flank before dropping the ball to Sodam Lee. Lee played it quickly on the ground across to Ifeoma Onumanu who turned and sent the ball to Caprice Dydasco, who was making an overlapping run on the right flank. Dydasco took one dribble and launched the ball off her right foot into the upper left corner of the net for her first goal in the NWSL.
Really is my FIRST NWSL GOAL!! Thanks for all the love 😊 https://t.co/7wEuwhTZgu— Caprice Dydasco (@CapriceDydasco) June 21, 2021
Gotham dominated the midfield and held possession for most of the game, but Orlando’s transition offense, led by the indomitable trio of Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, and Marta, mounted scoring threats throughout the game. In the 90th minute, Orlando’s goal came not from the celebrated forwards but rather off the left foot of defender Courtney Petersen, who shot a rocket into the top right corner of the goal. Marta, who looked like she found another gear in the last 15 minutes of the game, assisted.
Gotham’s ball movement in the midfield was excellent throughout the game. Allie Long looked particularly strong. She controlled the tempo and distributed the ball to both sides of the field. She also made a number of important stops in the defensive third.
Jennifer Cudjoe looked very comfortable, particularly as an offensive distributor. She received a yellow card in the 35th minute and, after receiving another few warnings, was subbed out for McCall Zerboni in the 56th minute. Fouls have been a bit of an issue for Cudjoe this season, something that I assume she and Coach Freya Coombe are working on together.
Much praise has been heaped on Gotham’s stingy back line, and deservedly so. Since the start of the regular season, led by the excellent play of Canadian National Team goalkeeper Kailen Sheriden and center back, Mandy Freeman, the Gotham defense has given up no more than one goal per match.
In Sunday’s game, the back four of Dorsey, Freeman, Lewandowski, and Dydasco looked generally strong. Freeman and Dorsey both had goal-saving clearances off the goal line, Dorsey in the waning minutes of stoppage time. Given the firepower of Orlando’s starting front three, the back line did excellent work to contain them.
Ifeoma Onumonu came in for an injured Paige Monaghan at the 40th minute and was an immediate difference maker. Her touch led to Dydasco’s goal, and she continued to create on and off ball scoring threats all match.
As for Monaghan’s injury, we all hope it was nothing serious. Monaghan pulled up, clearly in pain, with a non-contact injury. From the sideline, it looked like it could have been her hamstring. Gotham has not reported on it yet.
This game saw the much anticipated NWSL-debut of Brianna Pinto, who was drafted third overall in this year’s draft. Pinto came in in the 74th minute to replace Évelyne Viens.
With three goals in the last five games, Gotham will need to find scoring from somewhere in order to stay in contention for the playoffs. Pinto, along with newly-signed French footballer Gaëtane Thiney, will provide plenty of new possibilities.
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