Gotham FC falls to the Washington Spirit after a messy performance

  • Gotham FC and the Washington Spirit played for the first time in 2024
  • The Bats desperately needed to earn points on the road
  • Gotham ultimately fell 2-0
Gotham FC
Gotham FC / Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

NJ/NY Gotham FC traveled to Washington, D.C. on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to play against the Washington Spirit.  The Bats were coming off a draw against the Kansas City Current that involved the 2023 NWSL Championship celebrations, including the ring ceremony.

While Gotham has had a slow start, the high expectations of 2024 mean they have to find a way to steal points on the road.  There are plenty of injuries, but the players available are incredible where they should be scoring more and winning more.  Of course, this was only the fourth match, but there are only 26 fixtures in the regular season.

Plus, the Spirit has a lot of talent on their roster, making this another difficult match.  The visitors were able to hold the Current to a draw, so there was hope beforehand that they could win or at least grab a point. Although, with the pressure, the Bats really needed all three points.

Sadly, the result did not go Gotham FC’s way.  The ladies fell 2-0 in a messy and problematic match.  There were too many issues where they were held scoreless for the second time in the regular season.

Gotham FC's early season struggles continued in loss

Before the game, there was a slight surprise with the Starting XI.  Despite a strong second half from Crystal Dunn and Jenna Nighswonger against KC, Juan Carlos Amorós only started Nighswonger.  That is not to say the lineup was not a strong one, for it was.  Dunn has just been stellar when she is on the pitch. 

Plus, Lynn Williams was back and the captain of the team!  This means that one can assume she is ahead of Tierna Davidson when it comes to wearing the armband.  It was good to see her starting, for Gotham is better with her there.  The connection between her and Nighswonger was on full display during the game.  Moreover, her ability to maneuver from the left side to the center put pressure on the Spirit. With a likely minutes restriction, she had a decent first start.

With that being said, the Bats did not pick up from where they left off in the second half last Sunday.  It was messy and there were some communication issues.  It did not help that Davidson had to come out of the game in the 21st minute.  The backline struggles were evident, and it was a miracle that Gotham did not give up more goals.  The giveaways in the midfield did not help either. 

Everyone must have thought the home team would have scored in the 31st when Cassie Miller came way out of her box and left an empty goal.  Luckily, Bruninha managed to clear the ball, but those mistakes cannot happen for a team that is supposed to be feared.  Notably, the Bats were able to clean up many of their mistakes, but not all of them.

That is why the Spirit went on top in the 41st minute.  A superb goal by the rookie Croix Bethune saw her maneuver around some of the Gotham FC players, enabling her to take a shot and slide the ball past Miller.  It was also why the home side remained a threat throughout the entire time.

Plus, the handball call on Sam Hiatt in the second was the icing on the cake, leading Washington to their second goal off a penalty kick.  Ashley Hatch stepped up to put her team up 2-0.

As a whole, the defense was shaky, but as individuals, there were some impressive moments from the backline and others.  Bruninha and Nighswonger had numerous clearances and interventions that saved the team from falling down even more.  Two vital offside calls were also helpful. Although, that means nothing since the NJ/NY side earned no points.

The inability to connect and the difficulty with finding the back of the net was ultimately why the visitors ended with the loss on the offensive end.  The defensive mistakes eventually added up enough that Washington scored to take and keep the lead.

This was not the ugliest performance by Gotham FC.  With the players on the pitch, it was clearly a poor one.  At this rate, enough has been seen where the concerns should be loud.  What is going on with this team?