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Gotham FC open 2022 NWSL season with emphatic 3-0 win over Orlando Pride

The away performance quiets doubts after lackluster NWSL Challenge Cup

NWSL: NJ/NY Gotham FC at Orlando Pride
There was a lot of celebration in Florida.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Gotham FC started the 2022 NWSL season on the best foot possible with an emphatic 3-0 away win against Orlando Pride. The Gotham that looked so lost and disjointed in the NWSL Challenge Cup were nowhere to be seen: This Gotham controlled the midfield, locked down the defense, and made the most of the chances they created in the attacking third.

Most importantly, the squad is starting to gel after the team was substantially rebuilt in the offseason. Many of Gotham’s major offseason signings stepped up yesterday, including a power trio of United States internationals: goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris kept a clean sheet, defender Ali Krieger made 12 clearances, and midfielder Kristie Mewis assisted one goal then scored another.

We might be just one game in to a 22-game season, but if Gotham continue to play like this they’ll be lifting the Supporter’s Shield and be named 2022 NWSL Champions in October.

Game Stats

Gotham FC: 7 shots, 4 shots on goal, 49.5% possession, 420 passes, 75% pass accuracy

Orlando Pride: 15 shots, 4 shots on goal, 50.5% possession, 409 passes, 82.2% pass accuracy

While the scoreline suggests that the game was a blowout, Gotham spent most of the match disrupting Orlando in the midfield and absorbing what attacks they could muster. Goal-scorers are usually the ones featured on highlight reels, but when Gotham’s next opponents watch the game tape they’ll concentrate on the way Krieger neutralized Orlando’s forwards and goalkeeper Harris handled the few shots they made. Even Orlando’s Sydney Leroux, who was brought in as a substitute in the 46th-minute to change the game, was smothered and couldn’t find any space to work her magic.

All three of Gotham’s goals were scored within 15 minutes. It was a white-hot run of play in which Mewis did everything right.

It started when Mewis curled in a perfectly-placed corner kick that Gotham captain McCall Zerboni easily headed in like it was a scrimmage at the training ground, and not a competitive game:

Two minutes later, Midge Purce crushed any hope Orlando had of salvaging the game with what is surely the NWSL Goal of the Week: A ball over the top from midfielder Imani Dorsey, a timed run from Purce, a one-on-one with Orlando goalkeeper Erin McLeod that ends with a slight cut to the left and the ball in the back of the net. Purce’s speed and technical ability make it look easy:

Twelve minutes later, Mewis added a goal of her own to put Gotham comfortably ahead, which allowed head coach Scott Parkinson to let his team sit back in the second half and play out the win.

This match helps wash away the bad taste leftover from the disappointing 1-1 draw against Orlando at Red Bull Arena just last week, when Gotham won the stats game but couldn’t put together enough convincing runs of play to get a better result from a winnable game.

That was the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, which Gotham came to treat something like a tournament of friendlies. In the end, it was more about developing team chemistry than trying to grab wins. This is the 2022 NWSL season—this game counts.

As does the next one: Gotham will travel to the Left Coast to face Alex Morgan and expansion side San Diego Wave on Saturday, May 7, at 10 pm ET. The game will be broadcast live on Paramount+.

Goals

Gotham FC, McCall Zerboni 29’
Gotham FC, Midge Purce 30’
Gotham FC, Kristie Mewis 41’