Left off the USWNT Olympic roster of 18, and not included as one of the four alternates, Purce will be spending the summer with NJ/NY Gotham FC instead of in Tokyo. Playing at forward, Midge Purce led Gotham to its first road win of the season on Sunday. She scored one goal and assisted another, and Gotham beat the formidable OL Reign 3-0.
Ifeoma Onumonu scored the first goal for Gotham in the 38th minute. Mandy Freeman blocked an OL Reign pass in the defensive third and the ball was picked up by Midge Purce. She took a couple of touches and sent the ball long to Onumonu on a fast break. Onumonu beat Reign keeper Sarah Bouhaddi, who had come out to challenge her, and scored with her left foot from just outside the box.
Onumonu’s celebration after the goal with Midge Purce was almost as good as the goal itself.
OL Reign, playing their third game of the week, looked a little flat-footed, especially on their defensive end. All three of Gotham’s goals came on essentially fast breaks, where the defense simply hadn’t tracked back enough. Gotham was able to read the offside traps and, in each of the three goals, play over or through the OL Reign back line.
The Reign did put significant pressure on Gotham’s back line, with Jess Fishlock and Megan Rapinoe combining to create many good looks on goal, both for themselves and their teammates. But the Reign finishing was less than clinical, the vaunted Gotham defense held strong, and the Reign couldn’t find the back of the net.
On the subject of the defense, Mandy Freeman went down with an injury, having blocked a shot by OL Reign’s Celia Jiménez that seemed likely to otherwise result in a goal. Freeman has been the anchor of Gotham’s back line. Her positioning is unmatched, and the Gotham defense led by her, Gina Lewandowski, and goalie Kailen Sheriden have given up only two goals all season (a league-leading figure). Freeman spent two gruelling years coming back from an achilles tendon tear, and one has to hope that the injury doesn’t curtail Freeman’s incredible comeback or her ability to continue to contribute to this staunch Gotham side.
After a dearth of scoring in games past, on Sunday Gotham got three goals from three different players. Domi Richardson, who had subbed in for Jennifer Cudjoe at the 68th minute, scored on a fast break following a beautiful run by Évelyne Viens, who had come in for Ifeoma Onumonu at the same time.
The game also saw veteran McCall Zerboni return to the midfield starting lineup. She, Jennifer Cudjoe (who avoided the quick fouls she had been called for in many previous games), and Allie Long looked great together and controlled tempo and possession while they were on the field.
Despite on-field temperatures of over 90 degrees, Gotham FC played with unrivaled intensity for the entire match. Gotham will look to continue to find the back of the net while maintaining clean sheets when they take on Kansas City this Friday.
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Image Source: Harvard Magazine