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Instant Reaction: VAR disallows Gotham FC's winning goal

Gotham settle for one point on the road, remain at top of table for second consecutive week.

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Gotham FC earned another point on the road against the Washington Spirit. But the Goths should feel hard done by given how Video Assistant Referee overturned what should have been the game-winner.

The visitors grabbed a first-half lead at the end of a well-worked buildout from the back. Play was recycled through Ali Krieger, who wasted little time shifting the attack to the opposite wing. Taylor Smith attracted a pair of defenders, leaving the defender Bruninha, of all players, with space at the top of the box to take a great strike.

Video Assistant Referee, making its debut in the National Women’s Soccer League this year, has been of benefit up until this point for Gotham. But Yazmeen Ryan may have a word to say about it after her first Gotham goal was overturned in the 55th minute.

What makes this decision hard to swallow is the camera angle deemed best for Callado to look for a handball. The shot was to the back of Martin, giving no clear viewpoint on how she dealt with the ball. Seeing the ball between the slightly outstretched arm body was enough for Callado to deem she made a clear and obvious error and disallow the goal.

Ryan got her head on the end of one of Jenna Nighswonger’s many dangerous crosses of the night for what briefly appeared to be the insurance goal Juan Carlos Amorós’ side was seeking. VAR Kevin Stott encouraged Karen Callado to check the goal with the suspicion that of a handball used by Nealy Martin in the offensive build-up. After the review, Ryan’s goal was called off.

The frustration around the decision only increased when Washington found an equalizer against the run of play. Paige Metayer headed home a corner kick delivered by Ashley Hatch for her second career goal. It’s hard to pin the goal on anyone at Gotham as Metayer was simply best to the well-delivered ball.

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Despite failing to develop too many more dangerous chances themselves, Gotham continued to hold possession (61.2%) and keep the Spirits’ biggest threats from seeing much of the ball. Trinity Rodman was frustrated by Bruninha and joint leading goalscorer Ashley Hatch failed to get a single shot off in her 74 minutes played.

Morale around Gotham FC shouldn’t drop too far as the point keeps them on top of the NWSL table. They’ll turn to their first meeting of the year with the San Diego Wave set for Sunday, June 4 at Red Bull Arena.