With their third straight loss, NJ/NY Gotham FC slips to 7th in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) table and out of a playoff spot. While there is still time in the season to make up the lost points and get back into playoff contention, Gotham FC continues to struggle in the attack on the field. The team started off the night strong, but it would be a goal from the Orlando Pride's Erika Tymrak in the 49th minute that sealed the game for the Pride and dealt another disappointing loss to a struggling Gotham FC. The team was unable to find the back of the net despite dominating in possession and total shots.
Sunday's game versus the Orlando Pride saw record attendance for this season, with unofficial tallies putting it just over 7,000 fans. The game was advertised as Olympic return night, where the club would officially welcome back their three players who all medaled at the Olympics: Kailen Sheridan and Evelyne Viens who won gold for Canada, and Carli Lloyd who won bronze for the United States. Lloyd, who recently announced her retirement, received a hero's welcome at the game.
A contributing factor to Gotham's lack of goal scoring has been the absence of Margaret "Midge" Purce. Purce picked up an injury during a game against the Houston Dash on August 1, and has been out all month. The team has not managed to win a game since Purce has been out. In another recent blow to the team, their head coach Freya Coombe recently announced that she would be leaving to take on a new job with expansion team Angel City FC. The club announced earlier this week that this match would be Coombe's last with the team.
After the game, team captain McCall Zerboni was asked about Coombe's departure. "I want to be transparent - it's been really, really difficult," Zerboni said. "We're all just trying to navigate it and figure it out, and deal with the news and anxiety of what's to come. But at the end of the day there are no excuses. We have to get it done on the field." Zerboni believed that Gotham FC "dominated the game" despite being unable to score. She characterized her team as "a strong unit," but noted that they need guidance. She explained that although the team is going through a hard time right now, they're doing it together. "We'll bounce back, we'll be all right," Zerboni said.
Joining the post game conference for the last time as Gotham FC's head coach, Freya Coombe praised the team's possession based play but lamented their failure to put the ball in the back of the net and be clinical in the final third. She believes in the team, even as she departs the club mid-season. "When the final whistle went, and we had that huddle for the last time, it was very sad," Coombe said. "I am very grateful for ownership for giving me an opportunity. When I was the coach that no one had heard of, they gave me a start in the league." She went on to thank the players for their hard work, the fans for their support, and noted that this was one of the most difficult decisions she has ever made both in her career and in her life.
"This is a fantastic group of players," Coombe said of Gotham FC. "I've loved working with them. They're a very, very special group and they're going to achieve great things."
What's Next for Gotham FC?
In a quest to keep their playoff dreams alive, 7th place Gotham FC will take on the 5th place Chicago Red Stars at home on September 4. Tickets are available here. The game will also be streaming on Paramount+.