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Challenge Cup: Gotham FC Slip Past Washington Spirit


J.J. Pavlick


Tonight's match to start the opening of the Challenge Cup will see Gotham FC taking on the Washington Spirit. Washington enters the match undefeated with a regular season record of 2-0-1, scoring 5 goals and giving up 3. Gotham enters the match with a record of 2-1-0, scoring 4 goals and giving up 3. While it looks good the fact is the 4 goals came in 2 matches and 2 came via penalty kicks awarded by VAR, the other two came via Lynn Williams who is tied with Sinclair at 59 career goals. The weather is mild, and the stands are pretty much empty with 9 minutes till kickoff. Even though it is a Wednesday night match there are maybe 100 people being nice in the estimate. Hopefully, some more trickle in as the match gets underway, Gotham supporters' group is extremely light in number and carrying their signs from the Red Bulls match.

"The arm feels good, it passed the on-the-field test tonight." "Vlatko is always watching, we know this and while I'm with Gotham my mind is on Gotham and hopefully what I do here leads to a selection with the National Team." -- Gotham FC Midfielder/Forward Lynn Williams

The players are not happy with the smoke set off by the supporter's section, rubbing their eyes and coughing. The two coaches exchange a hug and handshake before the match kicks off. Gotham starts the game off with the ball via kickoff, and Washington presses quickly causing a midfield turnover. So far, a sloppy game by both teams, NY has had two chances at goal, but neither was a real threat. Washington gets their first shot 9' into the first half and it was a low-driven ball but right to the keeper Haught who scoops it up easily. Sava goes to the ground in the 14' asking for medical attention. Juan has Ryan warm up again with hast and she is still warming up in case Sava can't continue now in the 17'. Sava is noticeably slower on that last run in the box, she was called offside. The game feels like an all-star match with no one going all in and thus we have seen a see-saw performance from the two clubs. In the 24' Ryan returns to Gotham bench and Washington has another corner kick chance. like the previous five between the clubs, it goes nowhere. Plenty of sloppy soccer on a good pitch, and neither team has really had a sustained attack to this point troubling their opponent. The few hundred people in the stands start a "Let's Go Gotham" chant that lasts all of twenty seconds. Gotham fans seem to think soccer is not a contact sport tonight. It's quieter than a youth soccer game with a mad center that doesn't allow breathing. So far in 36' of play, we have seen nothing from either side, both can move at will and the backlines won't break. In the 43' Zerboni missed a wide-open run by Lynn Williams into the box and it cost Gotham a great scoring opportunity. a minimum of 2' was added and Gotham almost paid during it when Smith lost her mark, and the ball was placed just wide of the 2nd post. Gotham escapes the first half with a 0 - 0 tie. Gotham nearly was beaten twice in the final 2 minutes of additional time added to the half.

Both teams need to step it up in the second half, Washington started showing signs of life at the end of the first half. Juan will probably go to his bench to start the second half and don't be surprised to see Washington do the same.

"She just deserves the world" Gotham FC Midfielder McCall Zerboni when asked about Sinead Farrelly.

Second-half subs made by both teams; Gotham brings on Purce for Sava. Washington brings on Gabby Carle for Dorian Bailey and Jordan Baggett for Andi Sullivan. The subs almost work out early for Washington who gets the first shot off and it's just wide of goal. In the 56' Lynn Williams finds a loose ball at the penalty spot and places it, low 1st post for the goal to give Gotham a 1 - 0 lead. In the 61' Washington brings on 15-year-old Chloe Ricketts for Sheva and Ashley Sanchez for Douglas. In the 63' Gotham brings on Nealy Martin for K. Mewis, A. Long for A. Krieger, and in the 64' Y. Ryan for L. Williams. Purce with her 5th chance since entering and she turns it over again. Long finds a loose ball by the spot and a great save by Kingsbury to keep it 1 - 0. (PHOTO CREDIT: GOTHAM FC)

In the 75' a yellow card is issued to Sanchez for the tackle, the crowd is finally happy with the center tonight. The center has done a great job tonight despite what the crowd thinks tonight. Washington in the 81' brings on Ines Jaurena for C. Kuhlmann. Gotham brings on Nighswonger for Farrelly in the 84' of the fixture. In typical Purce fashion, she creates an opportunity only to squander it in the box. The game has been simple in 89' of play a single loose ball was put away by veteran Lynn Williams. Neither team has shown much tonight, we knew going in that coach Mark Richards was just using the match to get minutes for his depth players. He made it clear that winning the Challenge Cup was not a priority to him, he wants one trophy and that is the league title at the end. Onumonu has a breakaway chance and misses badly to keep the score 1 - 0, the Gotham bench is more concerned with the final whistle than the ball in play. Gotham clears it out and that is the match, Gotham wins their first Challenge Cup game this season.

Definitely not the performance coach Juan wanted out of his team tonight, the midfield was underperforming, and the final third was in shambles with trying to find the net. It was a gritty win and sometimes you just need that lucky bounce. Seeing these two teams meet up in the regular season will be fun to watch. Washington sat many of its regulars in favor of getting much-needed minutes for their rookies and depth players.

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