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  • Writer's pictureEmma Treptow

A Preseason Preview of NJ/NY Gotham FC

Who are they?

NJ/NY Gotham FC, formerly known as Sky Blue FC, is one of the founding members of the NWSL. The team changed from Sky Blue to Gotham in a complete rebrand at the beginning of 2021. They were founded in 2006 and have been members of both the WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) and NWSL. Gotham has never won an NWSL championship, with their closest attempt coming last season in 2021, with a quarterfinal qualification. The team did make it to the 2021 Challenge Cup final before falling to Portland on penalty kicks.

Photo Courtesy of @GothamFC /twitter

Before the 2021 rebrand, Sky Blue was represented with sky blue and orange colors. After the rebrand, a new color scheme, crest, and name were announced. The team introduced themselves as Gotham FC and their new colors as black, blue, and white. The crest is a shield with a deception of the Statue of Liberty with lettering showing both a Y and J next to the N to give representation to both New Jersey and New York.

Photo Courtesy of Gotham FC

Gotham is led by Scott Parkinson who is the former assistant coach of the Chicago Red Stars. Parkinson was with Chicago for one year and was with the Utah Royals as an assistant prior to that. Parkinson joined the squad after former head coach Freya Coombe was released by the club. Coombe was hired by the new Los Angeles expansion club, Angel City FC in August of 2021 and released by Gotham just days later. Alongside Parkinson is former professional player, Bev Yanez. Yanez last played for the OL Reign before announcing her retirement from the game in 2019. She joined the team partway through the 2021 season with her nine years of professional experience.

Another leadership change for Gotham was the hire of Yael Averbuch West as general manager and head of soccer operations for the club. Gotham fired former general manager Alyse LaHue after a league investigation. Within this investigation, it was told that there was a violation of the league’s anti-harassment policies. There was little information on the matter and the fire came as a surprise to many. West was officially hired in December 2021 after being named interim general manager in August of 2021. West spent 11 years playing professional soccer and was capped 26 times for the US Women’s National Team. She helped create the NWSL Players Association in 2017 and served as its president until her retirement in 2019. In 2020, she was named Executive Director and served as a Chairwoman on the NWSLPA’s Advisory Board. She is currently on the NWSL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement Committee and is the first USWNT player to be a general manager of any NWSL team.

During the Challenge Cup, Gotham finished third in the East division behind semi-finalists North Carolina Courage and Washington Spirit. Their record was 1-2-3 having beaten the Orlando Pride 1-0 for their only win of the cup. Their two losses came once from the Courage and once for the Spirit. This Challenge Cup was not what was expected from Gotham but considering it is simply preseason, it was Gotham’s best opportunity to work out any issues and try and perfect their style of play before entering the regular season. Gotham will begin their regular season on May 1, 2022, against the Orlando Pride in Orlando. Their home opener will be on May 14, 2022, against the North Carolina Courage at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.


Meet the Players

Photo Courtesy of Gotham FC

Gotham currently has 25 players on their roster with four newly signed rookies. They also have a solid set of veteran players including Midge Purce, Caprice Dydasco, and club captain, McCall Zerboni. These players along with others will be a very important part of Gotham succeeding this season. With a player like Allie Long out of Gotham’s midfield for at least half the season due to maternity leave, they will need to rely on other midfield talents as the addition of Long last season really helped their midfield. Dydasco, the reigning NWSL Defender of the Year after an amazing 2021 season, will continue to be an important piece on both sides of the ball for Gotham. She is able to provide crosses and is one of the strongest 1v1 defenders in the league. With attacking talent like Purce and Ifeoma Onumonu, Dydasco is sure to be leading the assist leaderboard once again this season.

Gotham had an extremely busy off-season picking up six new players, four of those six being NWSL veterans. They added two veteran goalkeepers, Michelle Betos and Ashlyn Harris. Betos, a New York native, joined the team after being waived by Racing Louisville. Betos appeared in 20 games last season for Racing and was one of the team’s captains in its inaugural season. Harris was traded from the Orlando Pride with Ali Krieger to join Gotham in December of 2021. Harris and Betos are both highly skilled goalkeepers and have plenty of league experience. Both keepers played during the Challenge Cup but it seems as though Harris is going to be the starter from now on. Krieger joined a strong Gotham backline alongside Mandy Freeman, Estelle Johnson, Imani Dorsey, and Dydasco. She has plenty of international and NWSL experience and will add even more experience to that backline. Another addition was midfielder Kristie Mewis who was left unprotected by the Houston Dash, picked up by the San Diego Wave, and then traded to Gotham FC for 200k in allocation money. During the 2020 Challenge Cup, Mewis was able to reach another level in her form and eventually put herself back into the national team fold. She has become one of the best central midfielders in the league and if she is able to keep her form up with Gotham, it’s sure to stay that way. The team also added Kumi Yokoyama as they requested a trade from the Washington Spirit to Gotham and Ellie Jean from PSV Eindhoven who will add depth and strength in both their respective position groups.

Gotham has signed four rookies, two of which were drafted this year, one last year, and one was acquired via the discovery list. They added depth in all four position groups with the additions of goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff, defender Kelly Ann Livingstone, midfielder Taryn Torres, and forward Cameron Tucker. All four players had stellar college careers and Livingstone, Torres, and Tucker all made their NWSL debuts during the Challenge Cup. As for Hancuff, head coach Parkinson has commented saying she is going to be a beast as she continues to grow.


What do I want to see?

Gotham has shown promise throughout the group stage of the Challenge Cup but lacked a clear goal-scoring threat as they only scored five goals in six games. They will need to work out that entering the regular season if they want to push for the top half of the table. The other lacking part for Gotham currently is a solid midfield with the absence of Allie Long. The team will need to have other players step up big time in order to work in the system Parkinson is trying to employ.

As for results, I would like to see Gotham be consistent throughout the season as they fluctuated greatly at times during the 2021 season, having started the season strong but falling off during the middle months, and not nearly getting back to where they were in the end. They finished the season with four ties and two wins in October. The addition of a new coach and system may be the reason for this but consistency will be a huge factor in whether or not Gotham has success in their push towards the postseason for the second season in a row.


Full Roster

Goalkeepers: Michelle Betos, Hensley Hancuff, Ashlyn Harris


Defenders: Imani Dorsey, Caprice Dydasco, Sabrina Flores, Mandy Freeman, Ellie Jean, Estelle Johnson, Ali Krieger, Gina Lewandowski, Kelly Ann Livingstone


Midfielders: Nicole Baxter, Jennifer Cudjoe (INT), Allie Long (ML), Kristie Mewis, Domi Richardson, Delanie Sheehan, Taryn Torres, Kumi Yokoyama (INT), McCall Zerboni


Forwards: Nahomi Kawasumi (INT), Paige Monaghan, Ifeoma Onumonu, Margaret “Midge” Purce, Cameron Tucker


Key:

ML: Maternity Leave

INT: International


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