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Gotham FC lose 1-3 to Washington Spirit at home

One win in five games not enough to advance to NWSL Challenge Cup knockout round

Washington Spirit v NJ/NY Gotham FC - 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup
Gotham FC’s Ashlyn Harris is a force in goal, but it wasn't enough.
Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

Gotham FC lost 1-3 to Washington Spirit on a brisk Easter Sunday afternoon in Red Bull Arena before an announced crowd of 2,061, ending their hope to get out of the group stage of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup. With five points after five games, Gotham is locked into third place in Group A and cannot advance to the knockout round.

The Goths will close out the tournament with a game against last-place Orlando Pride on Saturday, April 23 at 7 pm ET at Red Bull Arena. The game will be streamed live on Paramount+.

Game Stats

Gotham FC: 6 shots, 2 on goal, 51% possession, 456 passes, 71.3% pass accuracy

Washington Spirit: 18 shots, 6 on goal, 49% possession, 444 passes, 76.6% pass accuracy

Sunday’s game got off to a promising start for Gotham, when forward Nahomi Kawasumi scored in just he fourth minute: She lashed home a rebound after a Washington turnover let the Goths line up a shot from inside the box. It was just the fourth goal Gotham scored in five games.

Unfortunately, Kawasumi’s goal was the lone bright spot in an otherwise flat performance. Washington dominated the run of play for almost the entirety of the rest of the match, forcing Gotham to chase the game until the final whistle.

The 23-year-old US international Ashley Sanchez drew first blood for Washington, scoring in the 24th minute. Then 19-year-old star-in-the-making Trinity Rodman scored a brace for Spirit, sealing the win and putting Washington in the position to advance with a win on Saturday over North Carolina Courage. Washington could also advance with a draw, depending on the result of the Angel City FC-Portland Thorns game to be held on Sunday, April 24.

It hasn't been a strong tournament for Gotham. New editions to the squad are just starting to gel with the core of the team, and the midfield feels the absence of Allie Long—Gotham signed the US international in December, but she is expecting twins and is currently on maternity leave. (Congratulations!)

Still, the team shows promise. Ashyln Harris is a commanding presence in goal, and the defense should become more solid in the coming weeks. As for Gotham’s attack, this could be a breakout year for forwards Midge Purce and Ifeoma Onumonu.

While Gotham must be disappointed with yesterday’s result, it’s important to remember that the NWSL Challenge Cup is both a proper tournament with a trophy and prize money, and a warm-up that prepares teams for the six-month regular season that gets underway in two weeks.

In fact, Gotham’s first league game of the year will be a re-do of Saturday’s group stage game: Gotham open the 2022 NWSL season when they travel to Orlando to play Pride on Sunday, May 1 at 7 pm ET.

Goals:

Gotham FC, Nahomi Kawasumi 4’

Washington Spirit, Ashley Sanchez 24’

Washington Spirit, Trinity Rodman 39’

Washington Spirit, Trinity Rodman 75’