On Sunday evening, NJ/NY Gotham FC looked to continue their unbeaten streak at home as they welcomed the Houston Dash. After beating the Washington Spirit a few weeks ago, the team was ready to resume the rest of the regular season. The ladies knew they had to win to stay in the race for first place in the NWSL. They could also grab a playoff spot with all three points.
Sadly, that did not happen. Gotham fell to Houston, 2-0. As such, a confirmed playoff spot will have to wait.
However, the game started fast with Gotham FC on the attack. Lynn Williams registered the first shot on target in the third minute of play. Then, the ladies spent most of the possession time in the Dash's half, forcing the visitors to be on the defense. They also had about 87% of the possession in the first ten minutes.
As the first half progressed, Houston became more involved. Yet, it was Gotham who continued to dominate. They had 77.6% of the possession and numerous attacking sequences and shots. One of the best chances came from Williams in the 44th minute from outside of the box. This forced the Dash's goalkeeper, Jane Campbell, to make a drastic save.
Gotham FC falls to the Houston Dash
Despite Gotham's domination, Houston became formidable in the attack and outshot the NJ/NY side in the first half. This put the away side on top in stoppage time (45' + 5'). Michelle Alozie had no one in front of her when she sent a powerful shot into the center of the goal. This caused the home side to enter the locker room down 1-0.
In the second half, last game's hero, Esther González, came on for Katie Stengel. Gotham hoped the Spaniard would be the spark to put the ball in the back of the net. Alas, that was not the case.
Instead, Houston scored a second goal in the 67th minute. Alozie grabbed her brace with an incredible chip shot from outside the box. Mandy Haught made the mistake of coming out of her box, allowing the Dash player to send the ball over her head and into the goal.
Unfortunately, Gotham continued to miss out on chances. One such moment that occurred in the second half came in the 53rd minute. Kristen Edmonds had a great opportunity with her shot, but the ball hit the bar.
The best shot came in the first minute of stoppage time. González took her shot with only Campbell in front of her, but the Houston goalkeeper made the save. Additionally, Gotham was awarded a penalty a few minutes later, but Jenna Nighswonger could not convert.
The Bats actually outshot the Dash 23 to seven. Plus, the visitors had more possession in the second half and caused NJ/NY to end with only 68.5%, which was still a lot.
This was a must-win for NJ/NY Gotham FC if they wanted to compete for first place. The San Diego Wave won their match against Portland Thorns FC, thus taking the first-place spot. The loss was highly disappointing, and the Bats can likely say goodbye to the idea of finishing the season at the top of the NWSL table.