Gotham FC, Kelley O'Hara
Photo by Michael J Franco/JSN

Gotham FC fall late in Challenge Cup against San Diego

On Friday night, NJ/NY Gotham FC lost a close game to San Diego Wave FC, 1-0, in the Challenge Cup.

Gotham came into the game as the NWSL champions, but San Diego Wave actually finished with the first seed at the end of the 2023 regular season. The Bats' starting eleven featured many familiar faces, with Tierna Davidson making her debut in the defense. Head coach Juan Carlos Amoros went with a very attacking 3-3-4 formation that allowed the Gotham players more fluidity to move around the pitch.

Chances came for Gotham in the first half, but none tested the Wave goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Many shots in the first half were taken from outside the 18-yard box and went over the crossbar. With only two shots on target for Gotham and one shot on target for the Wave, the first half was more of a battle fought in the midfield. Possession was split between the two teams, with a slight edge going to San Diego (52.7 to 47.3%), as the half ended with a scoreless tie.

The second half was as close as the first, with Gotham seeing some good looks at goal. Again, though, the shots were not there for the Bats. Both sides were pressing high, trying to keep possession swinging in their favor. San Diego would also get close, but it was not until the dying minutes of the match that the deadlock broke.

Off a corner kick, Alex Morgan would have an open header at goal to score the winner in the 88th minute. The referee would add seven minutes at the end of the game, but it was not enough to see Gotham get the equalizer.

Tierna Davidson, in her debut, did exceptionally well, breaking up any slight chance that the Wave would have, especially in the first half. Crystal Dunn and Emily Sonnet debuted and subbed in the 66th minute of the game. In the final 15 minutes of the game, Coach Amoros used all five of his substitutions, which could have thrown off the flow for Gotham a bit. An injury sub had to be made as Maitane Lopez had to be replaced by 2024 rookie Maycee Bell in the game's last five minutes. Too many subs in a short period can throw off the momentum established by the players already in the game. And this may have been what happened to Gotham last night.

Overall, the buildup from Gotham was very promising; they just lacked in the final product on goal. Bruninha, Esther Gonzalez, and Delanie Sheehan were ever present in the offense, but the chances were not there. Midge Purce created space for herself, constantly attacking but sometimes not looking for the extra pass that would have opened up more space and a chance at goal. Captain Kelley O'Hara was a huge presence, getting back on the defense to create chances for the offense. All together, Amoros has created a team with all the right pieces, putting together a roster filled with versatile players at any position. Now, the team needs to focus on getting the goal in the back of the net.

Gotham plays its NWSL season opener away at the Portland Thorns on March 24 at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2. Their home season opener is on April 14 at Red Bull Arena at 6 p.m.

About The Author