Gotham FC opens the NWSL season with a 1-0 win in Portland

  • Gotham FC opened up the NWSL season away to Portland Thorns FC
  • The Bats shocked the crowd with a 1-0 win to open their NWSL campaign
Gotham FC
Gotham FC / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, NJ/NY Gotham FC opened up their NWSL season against Portland Thorns FC.  The two teams were coming off losses.  Last weekend, the Bats lost in the NWSL Challenge Cup and the home team fell to the Kansas City Current on the road.  Unquestionably, each side wanted a win.

Meanwhile, Crystal Dunn made her return to Rose City.  She did not have her best performance in her return but still played well.  The New York native started the game as the left-winger but played on both sides.  She and Emily Sonnett made their first start for the Bats, leaving the injured Rose Lavelle as the last player yet to start from the USWNT signings.  Sam Hiatt also made her first start at center-back.

In front of an incredible crowd, Gotham FC and the Portland Thorns battled it out.  One team had the edge though, and was the visitors from the East Coast.

Gotham FC spoiled the Thorns home opener, beating them 1-0.  This was the first home opener loss for the Rose City team, which means the Bats opened their season with a win.

Gotham FC earns three points in NWSL opener

The game was a physical one.  Players were running into one another, with some clashes sending the ladies to the ground.  The fight and grit were obvious on both sides, for they were willing to put bodies on the line.

Unfortunately, this led to an injury for Gotham.  Toward the end of the first half, Midge Purce, who was threatening with her passes into the box, had to come off after a third collision.  She had an earlier one where it was unknown whether she could continue.  Sadly, multiple clashes ultimately led to her coming out.  It looks like it could be a knee injury.  Hopefully, it is not a bad one, for she missed quite a bit of time last season.

One of the best players for Gotham was Esther González, who was all over the pitch.  The striker had no issue going far back into the midfield, attempting to earn possession back for the Bats.  She was also the most threatening player in the first half for the visitors.  She attempted a bicycle kick in the 15th minute on an incredible shot.  However, it went straight to the Portland goalkeeper.

In the second half, she put Gotham FC ahead 1-0.  In the 72nd minute, Yazmeen Ryan had a pitch-perfect pass on the ground to González.  The Spaniard received the ball and easily swept it into the back of the net.  It was a striker’s goal, for she was in the right place at the right time, and did her job.

Notably, the match could have ended differently without the offside calls.  There was a clear offside call in the first half on a goal from Sophia Smith.  However, the call in the second half on the USWNT star was a little more controversial since it was extremely close on whether the setup pass was offside.  Whether it was the right call might depend on which team one cheers for.

The offside calls saved Gotham, for the two goals were due to poor defensive decisions.  Yet, the defense was superb throughout most of the game.  Kelley O’Hara reminded everyone what she can do when healthy and Tierna Davidson was the calm and cool presence at the back.  One cannot forget about Cassie Miller, who had six saves.

This was a great way to start the regular season, except for the Purce injury.  Three points on the road in a crazy environment tells the NWSL that Gotham FC is here and ready to play.