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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Yan

Gotham FC’s Unlucky Streak: Another Loss and Only One More Game


From left to right, Victoria Pickett (#99), Midge Purce (#23), Imani Dorsey (#28), Paige Monaghan (#4), and Ifeoma Onumonu (#25), stand shoulder-to-shoulder forming a defensive wall for a free kick by OL Reign on September 21, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photo by Nala Burton for Women’s Sports Exchange.
From left to right, Victoria Pickett (#99), Midge Purce (#23), Imani Dorsey (#28), Paige Monaghan (#4), and Ifeoma Onumonu (#25), stand shoulder-to-shoulder forming a defensive wall for a free kick by OL Reign on September 21, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photo by Nala Burton for Women’s Sports Exchange.

With a 12-game losing streak and no goals in September, NJ/NY Gotham FC really just needs a little more luck to be on their side to cap off the season on a high note.


This team has been through it all. With another mid-season coaching change and key players missing or facing constant injury, players have gracefully accepted what this season has dealt them. From winning a 3-0 game to losing two 3-0 games in a row, and even a 5-0 loss, it most definitely wouldn’t hurt if luck would just be on their side for one last game.


In three out of their last five games, all played in September, Gotham has lost by only one goal in the second half. Out of those three games, two were penalty kicks. With penalty kicks having a tendency to be called inconsistently, Gotham has certainly been unlucky in the box as of late. The team has always just been so close yet so far from drawing or winning a game.


Season in Review

Before diving deeper into Gotham’s season thus far, let’s first break down the 21 games they have played and how bringing in a new head coach has impacted the team.


By the Numbers

  • NJ/NY Gotham FC, formerly Sky Blue FC, has played in all 10 seasons of the NWSL since its establishment in 2013.

  • Gotham has won only four games this season.

    • In 2015 and 2019, Gotham ended the season winning only five games.

      • 2015 (20 games): 5-8-7

      • 2019 (24 games): 5-14-5

    • Should Gotham not win their last game, this season will be the lowest number of wins the team has ever had.

    • Gotham's last win was at an away game against Racing Louisville FC on July 8.

  • Gotham has scored only 13 goals this season.

    • The first goal of the season was scored by captain McCall Zerboni.

    • 13 goals from six different players.

      • Midge Purce: 3

      • Paige Monaghan: 3

      • Kristie Mewis: 2

      • Taylor Smith: 2

      • McCall Zerboni: 2

      • Ifeoma Onumonu: 1

    • The current lowest is 20 goals scored in 2019.

      • Should Gotham not score seven more goals in their next game, which is a stretch but not entirely impossible, they are on track to set the new franchise record for the lowest number of goals scored in a season.

  • Gotham has allowed 43 goals from 32 different players this season.

    • Two of the goals allowed are own goals from Mandy Freeman.

    • Six of the goals allowed were from penalty kick calls.

      • Two taken by Alex Morgan for San Diego Wave in the same game.

      • Two taken by Megan Rapinoe for OL Reign in two different games.

      • One each taken by Ebony Salmon for the Houston Dash and Hailie Mace for Kansas City Current.

    • Four players have had a lot of luck scoring against Gotham.

      • Morgan has scored six goals, two of which were penalty kicks.

      • Rapinoe has scored three goals, two of which were penalty kicks.

      • Debinha has scored three goals for the North Carolina Courage, all in the same game.

      • Salmon has scored two goals.

    • This is still far from the highest number of goals allowed in a season.

      • 2018: 52 goals allowed in 24 games

        • Gotham scored only 21 goals this season, goals scored and goals allowed at a much similar ratio to this season.

      • 2017: 51 goals allowed in 24 games

        • Gotham scored 42 goals this season, so it kind of balances out.

Players Lost, Players Gained

Before the 2022 season began, news broke that midfielder Allie Long was pregnant with twins. Long played a big role in anchoring Gotham’s midfield and springing forward players like Midge Purce and Ifeoma Onumonu to score nine and eight goals in 2021 respectively. Until acquiring Victoria Pickett from Kansas City Current in late August, Gotham was unable to fill the void in the midfield all season long. Mixing in newly appointed interim Head Coach Hue Menzies’ tactics and the addition of Pickett, Gotham has been able to regain control of the midfield in their past couple of games, hence the team's better performance.


In June, Gotham added defender Taylor Smith to their roster and played her as a forward under Parkinson. Smith had an immediate impact scoring the game-winning goal in her Gotham debut against Racing Louisville. Smith was a much-needed addition to Gotham’s frontline as an attacking-minded player.

A few days after claiming Smith off of waivers from the Courage, Gotham signed forward Jenna Bike and defender Amanda Visco to National Team Replacement player contracts. Both players were released from their contracts a month later in late July. A week later, Gotham signed Bike to a senior team contract for the rest of the season with an option for an additional year. Although Bike competed at Boston College as a forward, Menzies has been testing out Bike in the backline. She was even in the starting lineup for Gotham at their September 24 game against the North Carolina Courage.


In early August, Gotham traded defender Caprice Dydasco to the Houston Dash, losing not only a starting player but a right back who provided invaluable crosses for attacking players. After Dydasco’s trade and Menzie taking over, the team has tried numerous formations and players in the right back spot to rebuild the team's defensive tactics. From playing 4-3-3 to 3-5-2 and even reverting back to Parkinson’s beloved 4-2-3-1, Menzies most recently played Gotham with a 4-3-3 formation against OL Reign on September 21.


And throughout the season many of Gotham’s key starters and bench players have been riddled with nagging injuries including Purce (nagging injuries), Ashlyn Harris (knee surgery), Domi Richardson (SEI - right knee), Sabrina Flores (right knee), among others on and off the availability report.


Michelle Betos ( #1), Imani Dorsey (#28), Mandy Freeman (#22), Ellie Jean (#21), and Ali Krieger (#11)  in a huddle at NJ/NY Gotham FC’s home game versus OL Reign on September 21, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photo by Nala Burton for Women’s Sports Exchange.
Michelle Betos ( #1), Imani Dorsey (#28), Mandy Freeman (#22), Ellie Jean (#21), and Ali Krieger (#11) in a huddle at NJ/NY Gotham FC’s home game versus OL Reign on September 21, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photo by Nala Burton for Women’s Sports Exchange.

Head Coach Switcharoo

Gotham’s losing streak began under former Head Coach Scott Parkinson at their July 16 game against the Portland Thorns at Providence Park where they lost 5-0 and graciously allowed Marissa Everett and Hannah Betford to score their first season goals. Parkinson would go on to coach two more games before agreeing to mutually part ways with Gotham on August 11. He left Gotham having coached 12 games with a 4-8-0 record in 2022.


Newly appointed interim Head Coach Hue Menzies coached his first Gotham game on August 14 against OL Reign, losing 4-1. Since that game, Menzies has only lost two games out of the nine he has coached to a goal differential larger than one. This is a huge improvement for Gotham as under Parkinson, the team had lost nearly all games to goal differentials greater than two. So despite losing every game since taking over, it’s clear that Menzies’ game plan with the team is working.


As we compare Parkinson’s and Menzies’ tactics, it's clear the team has been able to connect better on the field both offensively and defensively. Offensively, Gotham has been taking a lot more chances under Menzies. On average, the team has been taking two more shots per game with slightly more possession than under Parkinson. Defensively, the team has lost only two games to a goal differential greater than one, and a large handful of goals allowed were from very unlucky moments or unlucky calls by the referee.

Ali Krieger (#11) with a ball at her feet at NJ/NY Gotham FC’s home game versus OL Reign on September 21, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photo by Nala Burton for Women’s Sports Exchange.
Ali Krieger (#11) with a ball at her feet at NJ/NY Gotham FC’s home game versus OL Reign on September 21, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photo by Nala Burton for Women’s Sports Exchange.

A Bit of Luck

Gotham’s tough 1-0 loss to OL Reign earlier this week only added salt to the team's wounds.


“We just need a bit of luck,” Ali Krieger said at the post-match press conference. “We need a goal and not a corner kick called for us.”


Krieger’s last comment of course is in reference to one of the worst calls by a referee so far this NWSL season.


In the 12th minute of Gotham’s home game against Angel City on August 28, Brandon Stevis severely misjudged the ball crossing the goal line and awarded Gotham with a puzzling corner kick. Immediately the next day, the Professional Referee Organization rushed to issue a statement calling Stevis’ judgment an “egregious officiating error” and pulled all the officials present at the game from their next assignments. Had the referee team made the correct call awarding Gotham with the goal, the momentum of that game for Gotham could have been very different and in their favor. Perhaps Angel City would not have scored three goals immediately after that call, capitalizing on the confusion that lingered among Gotham’s field players. This game against Angel City was one of Gotham’s best yet, as they got off 22 shots with five being on goal.

And this wasn’t the only game where Gotham could’ve used just a bit more luck, especially this past month.


At their September 4 home game against the North Carolina Courage, Gotham gave up the game-winning goal late in the match with only nine minutes to go. Fuka Nagano took a shot for the Courage from just outside the 18-yard box and Michelle Betos dove in the right direction to potentially save the ball. Unfortunately, center-back Mandy Freeman’s defensive instincts deflected the ball right into the net and over Betos’ arms. Up until that point, Gotham was holding the Courage off strong and even had five out of 11 shots on goal for themselves. So, so close, but just not close enough for Gotham to secure a draw or a win.

This game was supposed to be Gotham’s home opener on May 14 but was rescheduled in July due to an extensive amount of COVID-19 protocols activated for the Courage at the time. Had Gotham played the match on May 14 as scheduled or been given a default win, Gotham could very well be holding onto five wins this season. Unlucky.

At their September 11 home game against the Kansas City Current, Gotham gave up another late game-winning goal, this time a penalty in the 78th minute. Betos dove the right way but Mace’s penalty kick was just too high and powerful for a save.


Against the Current, Gotham was able to have three out of their 14 shots on goal, but none got to the back of the net.

At the September 21 home game against OL Reign, Gotham gave up another game-winning goal, this time a penalty awarded to the Reign in the 58th minute as Krieger attempted to tackle Megan Rapinoe running dangerously at goal inside the penalty box. The referee issued Krieger a yellow card for the tackle although from her perspective, as she explained at the post-match press conference, her toe touched the ball and not Rapinoe.


Rapinoe buried her penalty kick. Betos didn’t even have a chance to dive.

Topping off Gotham’s incredibly unfortunate luck, Morgan and Debinha seemed to have unlocked the secret to scoring on Gotham multiple times in one game. Both players are star attacking players for their national teams, but it’s just brutal to be scored on four and three times, respectively, by the same player in the same game.


Morgan scored two goals and two penalty kicks on Gotham at the second game of the season on May 7, and Debinha scored a hat trick on September 24.

Last Hurrah

Gotham is officially out of the NWSL playoffs and will finish last in the league this season. Nothing can change that. But what can change for the better is the team truly capitalizing on one last chance in-season against the No. 1 team in the NWSL’s standings to better understand each other on the field under their current head coach.


It’s clear that all season long, players have struggled to connect on the field. Open crosses have been left unanswered, and communication across the backline has also been lacking despite some critical saves from goalkeepers and defenders. Even forward Paige Monaghan at one point won an NWSL Save of the Week. Numerous goals scored against Gotham were because of gaps in the backline or a sloppy touch. Once again, unlucky.

But it seems that in the past couple of games Gotham has been turning a page, most notably at the mid-week September 21 game against OL Reign at home. At that game, Gotham felt more like a team. It was like a switch flipped and players began to better recognize where each of them could contribute the most. There was evidently more effective communication between players and more freedom to roam from defense to midfield or midfield to attack. Credit to Menzies for trying players out in different positions and formations to find what works for their current roster, a team of very talented players.


Onwards and Upwards

From coaching changes to trading a key starting player, it’s safe to say that off the pitch, Gotham has had anything but stability. Yet despite all these challenges, the team has held their heads up high.


Unlucky loss after unlucky loss, players have answered reporters' questions at post-match conferences looking to improve for the next game both personally and as a team. They reflect with pride on the team's endurance and show gratitude to their new interim head coach and front office frequently.


General Manager Yael Averbuch West wrote a thread on Twitter backing the club’s future and inspiring players and fans alike to keep “faith in the future of what [Gotham’s] building.” With an emphasis on the club’s identity, Averbuch promised a new approach to recruitment, utilizing analysis and scouting methods they’ve never done before. So be on the lookout for Gotham to make waves in the off season. Who wouldn’t want to live in the Garden State in the backyard of the Big Apple?


And with the addition of minority owners Sue Bird and Eli Manning, Gotham is clearly set on strengthening their identity beyond the pitch as well. Capitalizing on New Jersey and New York’s big personalities, it’s just a matter of time before NJ/NY Gotham FC becomes a force to be reckoned with on AND off the pitch.


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