On Sunday, NJ/NY Gotham FC and the entire NWSL kicked off their final regular season matches of 2023. The Bats were initially playing for first place a few weeks ago. Sadly, a pair of losses had them fighting for a playoff spot as they faced the Kansas City Current.
Gotham had to win in order to guarantee a playoff spot. A win would also solidify a top-four finish in the NWSL standings.
Additionally, captain Ali Krieger played her final regular season game. The 39-year-old is an NWSL and USWNT legend. The Bats celebrated her in every way possible. Of course, the ideal celebration would be a win. That way, Krieger would play at least one more fixture before her retirement.
Gotham FC could not grab the win in the end. They shared the points with Kansas City via a 2-2 draw. They relied on other teams to ensure their playoff position but ended the regular season in sixth place. In some ways, most would have thought they would have gained all three points.
Gotham FC draws Kansas City and still makes the playoffs
Gotham FC got on the scoresheet early, thanks to Midge Purce. In the sixth minute, Delanie Sheehan recognized the forward was making a run and passed her the ball. Purce had plenty of room before her and took her chance. She rolled the ball into the right bottom corner of the goal. She put the ladies up front but the match would not be an easy one.
The goals would not stop there. In the 15th minute, Yazmeen Ryan showed her skill in the box by maneuvering around Kansas City players. She dribbled the ball and put herself in front of the right side of the goal on a diagonal. She slickly sent the ball toward the top left of the goal, and it hit the left post and fell into the back of the net.
The Bats continued to pressure the visitors in the attack and defense. But the Current was also a threat. They got on the scoresheet in the 26th due to a goal from Alexa Spaanstra.
Unfortunately, the Gotham defense was not on par with the attack. The Current were able to level the score thanks to an own goal by Jenna Nighswonger in the 34th minute.
The shakiness in the home team's own half did not make sense. The backline's confidence was off and there were too many giveaways by multiple players. If anyone deserves praise in the defense, especially in the first half, then it would be Krieger. She had two critical interceptions to eliminate shots from Kansas City.
At halftime, the score was 2-2, and Gotham was still in fourth place. Again, the playoffs were not guaranteed without a win. As such, the ladies knew they had to score in the second half.
They tried to score. Lynn Williams saw incredible opportunities in the 49th, 59th, and 89th, and Sheehan had a golazo chance in the 61st that hit the top of the bar. Williams then had a beautiful pass to Esther González in the 80th minute, but her shot was just off target. The ladies continued to attack, but the third goal would not come.
Thankfully, the defense was stronger in the second half, leading to the draw. The result was still disappointing since Gotham could have easily finished in the top 3. Poor results over the last few games ultimately caused Decision Day to be full of nerves. In the end, the home team had to rely on others for their postseason fate. Thankfully, the results were somewhat in their favor since they made the playoffs.
After a terrible 2022, the playoffs in 2023 is a wonderful accomplishment for the Bats. The fact they were at one point fighting for first place and finished in sixth is disappointing. The latest results makes one ponder whether NJ/NY Gotham FC has a chance to be successful in the postseason.