Gotham defeat battered Red Stars
The match tonight will see the red-hot Gotham FC with leading goal scorer Lynn "Bats" Williams taking on the struggling Red Stars of Chicago who are still looking for an identity after losing superstar forward Mallory Pugh Swanson to injury during her stint with the National team against Ireland. Gotham under new head coach Juan Carlos has already reached the level of wins of last season's team. The environment has been different this season, the players and coaches are upbeat, and the small things don't bring this team down like last year. Gotham sits in the upper tier this season closing in on the top spot held currently by OL Reign by the skin of their teeth. Portland, Washington, and Gotham are all on their tail and it's something the fans of Gotham have been waiting for. They're no longer the laughingstock of the league and are now considered one of the favorites to win the league. Not all the wins this season have been pretty, but Juan Carlos has found a way to bring the best out of his players every game. There has only been one match in which the team was outplayed by their opponent by a good margin. The rest has seen Gotham in it for the full 90'+ and battling.
The first half saw Gotham get off to a fast start something we don't usually see with this team; rookie Jenna Nighswonger netted her first career goal as a professional in just the 6' of play when she tapped in a well-placed cross from Taylor Smith. (Photo Credit: Gotham FC)
The FSU standout was drafted number four overall by Gotham FC this past offseason. She was drafted as a forward/midfielder but in her 5 matches this season we have seen her more on the defensive line. She has made an impact on the pitch in her action this season, even stepping up to fill in on the back line which is not her natural position. Unfortunately for the rookie, she went down with an injury in the 23' of the match and was replaced by Sinead Farrelly in the 28'. Gotham would keep the Red Stars in check for a large portion of the first half, the biggest scare for Gotham came in the 35' when Haught was called on to stop a 1 v 1 against Penelope Hocking who attempted to sneak one in the back of the net going low left corner. Haught rose to the occasion preserving the one-goal lead and clean sheet. The 4th official would show a minimum of 6' added, then none other than Lynn Williams would step up in the 45'+2' striking a rocket past USWNT teammate Alyssa Naeher. Williams picked the lower left corner of the 2nd post and didn't miss from 23 yards out. (Photo Credit: Gotham FC)
Gotham almost added another in the final seconds to the half, but Mewis was denied by Naeher off a great pass by Brazilian star Bruninha.
Reflecting on the goal, “It was all about [Taylor Smith] doing really well, getting the 1v1, having the cross, and just putting myself in a good situation where if there's any rebounds...just being there to get a tap in, which is kind of just what happened,” said Nighswonger. “I’m excited to have gotten the start at left wing and to have made an impact.”
While Gotham is usually a second-half team it was great seeing them get out to the quick start and maintain the pressure throughout the first half giving the Red Stars few chances on goal. The Red Stars' best chance of the match so far was when Haught stepped up big denying Hocking from no more than 8 yards from goal if not closer. The only other shot conceded to Chicago came from distance and wasn't a threat at all when A. Wright let one go from about 26 yards from the right of the goal.
The second half was a different story for the Gotham side who struggled a bit at the start, letting Chicago back into the match when Ella Stevens scored off a corner kick attempt after they failed to properly deal with the corner just before this one. Ella headed home a perfect cross from the corner spot. Yazmeen Ryan was caught out of position, allowing Ella to get that header in the 54'. The Red Star have come out to play this half and try to tie things up, they have stopped the dangerous attacks by Gotham that picked apart the backline of Chicago in the 1st half. Gotham managed to hold on and avoid giving up the equalizer to take all 3 points home with them to the NY/NJ area. There were a few close moments, but Juan Carlos's team refused to break and give in to the pressure. Gotham returns to action at home on Mother's Day!
“This is a massive win. It shows the style and the winning mentality that this team has,” said Gotham FC Head Coach Juan Carlos Amorós. “In the back of three away games in a week where we needed everyone to step up, everyone stepped up. And today, in the first half, it was fantastic. [In the second half], we were tired after the long week, but the team never gave up. Keep going, keep going, keep working and we were able to win away from home. Credit to all of the players, whether they played today or not, and to the staff. This is a big win for Gotham.” “We have an absolutely fantastic goalkeeper union,” said Amorós. “Mandy has been outstanding at training and she was very, very good in difficult conditions, especially in the second half.”
Photo Credit: Gotham FC