Gotham FC Hope to Wilt the Thorn’s 1st Seed Hopes
By J.J. Pavlick
Gotham enters tonight’s showdown eliminated from the playoffs. However, they can shake up the playoff standings with a win or draw against first-place Portland. Gotham got the party started early in the Gotham FC Garten by hosting a fan appreciation event with live music and games for the entire family. Besides the chance to play spoilers, this game is huge for interim head coach Hue Menzies. A loss tonight could see him out the door and a big vacancy to fill this offseason for the club.
The 1st half is underway with Portland controlling the kickoff, Portland goes straight for the goal sending a cross into the box, cleared out for a throw-in. Portland earns a corner kick and stacks the box, Klingenberg takes the corner and Betos comes out and grabs it for Gotham. Sophia Smith breaks into the box 1 v 1 against T Smith and gets the shot on goal, saved by Betos. Portland is coming out strong this match dictating the first 5 minutes of play at will with no resistance from Gotham’s Midfield. In the 9th minute, Sinclair sends a dangerous cross into the box from 40 yards out, it is headed wide by Morgan Weaver. Gotham commits a foul 20 yards from goal on the right side of the goal, the free kick is taken by Meghan Klingenberg and cleared out by I. Dorsey of Gotham. Gotham Counters racing down the pitch Ifeoma Onumonu with the cross, headed on goal by Nahomi Kawasumi, saved by Bella Bixby. Seconds later Portland turns it over in the midfield, Mandy Freeman finds Kristie Mewis in on goal with a perfect through ball, and Mewis miss hits the shot wide of goal. Less than a minute later Gotham FC Mandy Freeman finds herself wide open 17 yards from the goal but it’s the outside of the goal netting. Portland quickly countered and earned a corner kick. It’s taken by Sophia Smith and played out for another corner kick. Smith places this corner near the post and played out for a throw by Gotham FC Mewis. Portland fouls Kawasumi on the Portland throw-in. Mewis quickly finds Onumonu with a great through ball, but Portland’s center backs play the ball out for a throw. We are scoreless through the first 21 minutes of play. Both teams are pressuring the other’s back line at a feverous pace. In the 27th minute, Freeman finds Kawasumi wide open in front of the goal, but the kick goes inches wide of the goal. The fans are starting to get into the match cheering the underdog Gotham FC on, in an attempt to help the squad, pull off the upset. In the 29th minute of play, Onumonu draws a foul just outside the box left of the goal. Mewis shot on goal is wide, goal kick Portland. In the 32nd minute Sophia Smith tries to find Morgan Weaver, but the pass is deflected out just in time by Taylor Smith. Gotham counters with Mewis finding Kawasumi in the box, and Portland’s Kelly Hubly places it out for a throw at the last minute. Moments later Portland earns a free kick 40 yards from the goal, the shot by Klingenberg doesn’t faze Betos who makes the save easily. In the 38th minute, Natalia Kuikka takes a shot on goal from 30 yards out saved by Betos. She plays it quickly upfield where Purce finds Onumonu in the box her shot is blocked, and the rebound is found by Kawasumi GOAL Gotham FC goes up 1-0. Portland tries to answer quickly Sinclair finds Rock Rodriguez wide open 4 yards from the goal her header beats Betos, bounces just wide of the far post, and out for a goal kick. In the 43rd minute, Mewis fouls Smith 35 yards from the goal, the free kick is taken by Klingenberg, Ball is played into the box and a Penalty Kick is awarded. Bad foul by Onumonu in the box, Smith takes the penalty kick and places it in the bottom left corner of the goal. The game is all tied up 1-1 with just extra time to play in the first half. 2 added minutes of added play was shown by the 4th official, Portland pushes forward Hima Sugita finds Smith open in front of the goal and she doesn’t miss, Goal Portland and in less than 30 seconds Portland scores twice to take a 2-1 lead in the first half. Portland Smith goes in on goal again off a quick counter and her shot goes wide. The center referee blows the whistle to end the 1st half.
The 1st half was action packed with both teams pushing hard for goals. Gotham opened the scoring in the 39th minute with Kawasumi scoring and sending the arena into a frenzy. Gotham was looking great and posed a threat to pull off the upset. However, an unfortunate foul in the penalty area gave Portland the chance they were looking for, their leading goal scorer Sophia Smith didn’t let her team down nailing the penalty kick into the lower left corner in the 44th minute. She went on to score another goal in the 45th minute +1 to give her team the 2-1 lead going into halftime. Smith nearly scored her 3rd goal for the hat trick with seconds left but the shot went just wide hitting the goal netting from the right of the goal. Gotham had played their best soccer of the season in the first half, looking forward to seeing them come out in the 2nd half to try and tie the match quickly.
To start the 2nd half Portland makes a substitution bringing on #23 Yazmeen Ryan for #12 Christine Sinclair. Portland has come out strong in the 2nd half earning their 2nd corner in under 3 minutes. However, they haven’t been able to capitalize on their corner-kick chances tonight. In the 50th minute, Klingenberg takes a shot from distance on the goal, saved easily by Betos. Sophia Smith sits 1 goal behind Alex Morgan for the golden boot. Alex leads the league with 15 goals. If Smith gets the hat trick, she will tie Alex for the lead. In the 54th minute, #22 Morgan Weaver finds the back of the net from distance giving Portland a 3-1 lead now. Gotham responds right back with Purce dashing up the left wing and finds Onumonu on the far post with a beautiful cross, Onumonu made no mistakes and headed the ball in the back of the net for the Goal! Purce goes right back at Portland this time on the right wing and earns a throw-in. The fans are getting behind Gotham FC, trying to give the team that extra burst of energy to tie this game. Freeman streaks down the left side and finds Purce, her shot is blocked out for a corner in the 60th minute of play. Mewis takes the corner kick; Portland plays it out for another corner. Mewis finds Onumonu whose header is blocked out for another corner. The 3rd corner is played out of danger by Portland with no trouble. In the 65th minute, Smith is left wide open in front of the goal, and lucky for Gotham her header goes wide of goal. Gotham quickly makes 2 substitutions bringing on #3 Bruna Santos Nhaia for #28 Dorsey, and #99 Victoria Pickett comes on for #11 Ali Krieger. In the 68th minute, Mewis is left open at the top of the box and fires a bullet on the net that is saved by Bixby. Freeman is fouled hard in the 69th minute, Portland and Gotham both make subs before the restart. Portland brings on #19 Crystal Dunn for #46 Taylor Porter, and Gotham subs on #4 Paige Monaghan for #25 Ifeoma Onumonu. Gotham manager Hue Menzies and the Gotham faithful are trying to will the team to find the important tying goal. Portland needs a win to clinch 1st place tonight any other result and they have to wait to see what the OL Reign does. In the 74th minute captain, McCall Zerboni scores the game-tying goal. Seconds later Purce dispossesses Portland’s weaver and streaks down the right wing to earn a corner. The score is tied at 3 in the 76th minute and Red Bull Arena is alive and loud. In the 77th minute, Portland takes their 9th corner of the match, Purce clears it up the right side and Gotham pushes forward towards the goal. Zerboni is fouled hard at midfield, and #24 Estelle Johnson takes the free kick. Purce nutmegged Klinenberg into another universe, she finds Paige Monaghan wide open on top of the box, and her shot is blocked out of play. The referee calls a Hydration break, and the Fans rise to their feet inside Red Bull Arena cheering on Gotham FC. In the 84th minute, #11 Rock Rodriguez takes a shot from distance, but it sails wide of the goal. In the 86th minute, Betos comes charging off her line to save the shot by Beckie. Sophia Smith seconds later breaks in and fires a bender that sails just wide of the far post. A minute later Beckie finds smith in on goal from 4 yards out and a great save by Betos keeps the game tied at 3. Pickett draws the foul call on Dunn from 45 yards out. Gotham makes a sub entering the match #5 Nicole Baxter, she came on for #9 Kawasumi. 90th minute of play and the 4th official announces 3 extra minutes of play. Freeman fouls smith at midfield and is issued a yellow card. Gotham FC assistant coach isn’t happy yelling at the 4th official who dismisses her to her bench quickly. Monaghan draws a foul 35 yards out to the right of the goal; Mewis takes the free kick and fires a bullet just wide of the far post. The referee blows the final whistle, Gotham FC pulls off the upset and now Portland will be scoreboard-watching tonight’s game between OL Reign and Orlando Pride at 10 pm eastern standard time.
The fans let Gotham FC know how much they appreciated their effort tonight giving the team a standing ovation. Gotham came in as the underdog with everything to prove tonight, they won over the fans and showed the league they will be a team to watch next season. Gotham will have lots of important decisions to make this off-season. This was by far the best game played by Gotham all season, they played for their interim coach and all their fans. The supporters’ section sings to the players post-game and the players acknowledge with enthusiasm. See you next season Gotham FC you went out with a gutsy performance and lots to be proud of. Some of the fans have gone over to the supporter’s section to join in the show of support for the team tonight. Gotham has a bright future.