10-player Gotham FC falls 2-0 to the Washington Spirit

  • Gotham FC’s loss puts an end to a nine-game unbeaten run
  • They lost both games to the Washington Spirit this season
Katie Stengel of Gotham FC
Katie Stengel of Gotham FC / Lucas Boland-USA TODAY Sports

All good things must come to an end. NJ/NY Gotham FC's unbeaten streak ended at nine as they fell 2-0 to the Washington Spirit. This result means Gotham lost both their meetings with the Spirit this season, both by a score of 2-0.

Things started somewhat promising with the Bats having the lion's share of possession and chances early on. However, a few sloppy fouls and a goal from Washington in the 27th minute against the run of play set things back for Gotham FC.

The goal came from Spirit rookie Courtney Brown who managed to send the ball past Ann-Katrin Berger off of a feed from fellow rookie, and probable front-runner for Rookie of the Year, Croix Bethune who notched her league-leading ninth assist.

Things then really fell apart when in first-half stoppage time Yazmeen Ryan earned a slightly bizarre red card. Having already picked up a yellow earlier on for a foul, Ryan had gone off the field for medical treatment after being hit in the head during a corner kick. In the situation where a player has to leave the field for medical treatment, they need to wait for the center referee to wave them back into the game.

Gotham FC’s historic unbeaten streak came to a disappointing end

There seemed to be some level of miscommunication as Ryan went back onto the field thinking she had received permission to when she evidently had not. This combined with a level of dissent towards the referee saw Ryan receive a second yellow card, leaving Gotham with ten players for the second half of the game.

Any chance of a second-half comeback was seemingly dashed in the 47th minute when who other than Trinity Rodman blasted home Washington's second goal of the day and her fourth of the season.

Despite being down two goals and down a player, Gotham FC did not lay down for Washington. While the Spirit did dictate the vast majority of the play in the second half, fans could tell the NJ/NY side was still pushing forward and trying to get back into the game. They had a few chances with Jenna Nighswonger being asked to create everything from the left-hand side after Ryan's sending off but it ultimately came to nothing.

Gotham FC looked to be given a lifeline in the 90th minute as Spirit defender Kate Wiesner was called for a handball in her own box, resulting in a penalty for the Bats. The penalty kick was saved though as Katie Stengel went low to Aubrey Kingsbury's right. Alas, the Spirit goalkeeper managed to get a hand to it and keep the clean sheet for Washington.

Gotham's nine-game unbeaten streak was the club's longest in the NWSL and was a real positive turn of form after an unconvincing start to the season. Generally speaking, there is no shame in losing to Washington, who along with the Bats, the Kansas City Current, and the Orlando Pride look to be the front runners for both the shield and championship.

That being said, the way they lost was not at all a good look. As said earlier they had the majority of the momentum early on but then seemed to get in their own way with a myriad of sloppy, unnecessary fouls that ended up killing their momentum. They ultimately beat themselves today and handed the game to Washington who didn't need a second invitation and took the chances handed to them. Plus, they are on their own unbeaten run, which stands at six matches.

The Spirit is probably a team that Gotham will need to beat come playoff time. It is not a guarantee nor is it close to playoff time, having the psychological disadvantage of having lost both of the regular season matchups puts them at a disadvantage in a potential playoff matchup.

Also, it is not unreasonable to assume the three-game week played a factor in terms of higher fatigue level than Washington who did not have a midweek game. Some of the sloppy fouls and lack of sharpness can potentially be attributed to the busy week. Still, this was not the home team's best game and it felt as if they still would have lost even without the rest disadvantage.

The only two good performers from this game for Gotham were Nighswonger and Berger. Nighswonger was the team’s main attacking outlet today and Berger, despite giving up two goals, kept Gotham in this game after the red card and ultimately could not do much of anything on the two Spirit goals.

One final note on this game is to keep an eye out for news on Rose Lavelle. In the minutes leading up to her substitution, she seemed to be limping and struggling with some sort of lower-body injury. Hopefully, this isn't anything serious that would keep her out for Gotham FC or next month's Olympics.