Preview: NJ/NY Gotham FC (h).
Updated: Apr 30
When? Sunday May 1, 4 p.m. PT, 7 p.m. ET and midnight BST.
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on Paramount+ for residents of the United States and on Twitch for international supporters.
You know what I love about the NWSL? No two game weeks are ever the same... Wait, what? We're playing Gotham again? OK, so maybe they are the same. Sometimes. It doesn't help that I'm currently halfway through watching 'The Batman'.
I feel like all I've thought about is Gotham city this week. I was walking around Aldi the other day, and was going to treat my son to a new toy. That is, until I saw they were all Batman toys. And then I felt nauseous, thinking of Mandy Freeman making like the Killer Croc and taking a dive at Red Bull Arena last week. Ugh. It's OK, he's like his dad and prefers Spiderman anyway.
Anyway, Gotham. What's changed since last week? Literally nothing... It's the start of the regular season anyway, so there is that. Let's get into it anyway.
At the risk of sounding a bit like a broken record, Gotham can be exploited in wide areas. This is something I touched upon in my preview of our last encounter. Ali Krieger was being used on the left, which gave them a bit of an imbalanced look defensively and meant they often had to play through the middle, rather than down the line (figure 1). That's no criticism of the erstwhile Pride defender, she's right footed and so it's easier for her to come inside. What the Pride can then do, and what they did well last week, is force errors and turnovers in the offensive third.
This is just a general issue I have with full-backs playing on their opposite side; it's something I've spoken about when Kyle Smith plays left-back for City. Right footed left backs typically play the ball inside to the central midfielders which narrows play. This then presents opportunity for turnovers if the Pride press well, as they did last weekend; the Pride had a lot of joy recovering the ball in Gotham's half (figure 2).
Figure 1 shows Ali Krieger's successful and unsuccessful pass positioning matrix, whole 90.
Figure 2 shows the areas of the field Orlando's midfielders and forwards won the ball back in.
Gotham have a lengthy absentee list for this game; Imani Dorsey, Sabrina Flores and Midge Purce are all out through injury. Allie Long is on maternity leave, and Gina Lewandowski is observing COVID-19 protocols.
The Pride have a significant absentee list of their own. They continue to be without Caitlin Cosme, Erin McLeod, Marta, Sydney Leroux, Meggie Dougherty-Howard, Parker Roberts and Erika Tymrak through injury. Carrie Lawrence is back from suspension and Amy Turner is a doubt.
Edit: 4/30, Erin McLeod and Sydney Leroux are both back in training and available for the game.
Possible starting XI
I think they'll name an unchanged team to be completely honest. Not out of choice, but out of necessity. They might rest Onumonu for Tucker, but that'll be it. They have a considerable absentee list for this game.
The influential midfielder played 5 games in this year's Challenge Cup, totalling 38 6 minutes. The USWNT star has adapted rather well to her new surroundings in The Garden State, scoring twice, chalking up 1 assist and 7 key passes. She's yet to hit her very best form, as are Gotham, but the idea of her recapturing said form is a rather disconcerting notion as far as NWSL defenders are concerned. Let's hope she doesn't start this weekend.
Gotham and Orlando were both eliminated from the NWSL Challenge Cup. Gotham went 1-3-2, whilst Orlando were 0-2-4.
*Due to the close proximity of the two games, some of this review has been adopted and re-purposed from the preview of last week's encounter. All stats are current at the time publishing.
*All statistics courtesy of nwslsoccer.com
Cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Top player image courtesy of Gotham FC.
Media availability footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.