With only four games left in the season, NJ/NY Gotham FC is making their case for a spot in the postseason. With their 3 - 2 win over the Orlando Pride, Gotham moves up to 5th place and is only one point behind the 4th place Washington Spirit with a game in hand.
The starting XI looked a little different than normal with midfield mainstay Allie Long suspended for yellow card accumulation. Instead, France native Gaëtane Thiney earned the start. Thiney, a veteran of the French Women's National Team, is currently on loan to Gotham FC through the remainder of the season from Paris FC.
Thiney made an immediate impact on the game, scoring her first NWSL goal just three minutes into the game, assisted by Caprice Dydasco.
In the 6th minute, play was stopped and all players from both teams took to the field and linked arms in a show of solidarity with former players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim. The 6th minute represented the six years that Farrelly and Shim had to wait for their stories to be heard. The demonstrations have been ongoing since Wednesday's games, and was organized by the NWSL Players Association. Mana Shim was present at the match and joined the players during their demonstration.
As play continued, Thiney's goal would be the only one scored in the first half. The second half would see four more goals scored between both teams.
Gotham started off the second half quickly, with a second goal from Thiney in the 46th minute coming directly from a free kick, followed quickly by a third goal scored by Margaret "Midge" Purce in the 49th minute, assisted by Ifeoma Onumonu.
What a fantastic team goal from @GothamFC!
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 10, 2021
The game seemed like a runaway for Gotham until the Orlando Pride came back with a goal in the 83rd minute when the shot taken by Erika Tymrak slipped through the gloves of Gotham FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Following a controversial penalty call, the second goal for the Pride would come in the 89th minute from Marta at the spot.
Gotham FC's defense shined for much of the game, with veteran center back Gina Lewandowski making four clearances on the night.
Gaëtane Thiney earned Player of the Match for her two goals and quality playing in the midfield. After the game, Thiney said she was so happy to get her first goals, and was glad to get the win.
— NJ/NY Gotham FC (@GothamFC) October 10, 2021
During the post game press conference, Margaret "Midge" Purce said she was happy they won, but lamented the fact that the team gave up the two late goals. "Truthfully, it wasn't fantastic." She made mention of the quality of refereeing, alluding to the controversial penalty kick awarded to the Pride in the dying moments of the game.
Turning to current events in the league, Purce explained that systemic change is needed in the NWSL. "It has been a perfect picture for the next generation of what power looks like when women come together for something that's greater than the individual," Purce said. She added that she is proud of the players association and the PA reps who have come together in organizing impactful demonstrations.
Purce commended new head coach Scott Parkinson on prioritizing the players as people, and complimented him on his style of coaching which has given them structure and direction that has allowed the players to be more creative. Purce lauded her teammates and the work everyone puts into the team. "Every day I have the privilege of being on a team where we have so many talented players," Purce added. "To be on this roster and make it into the 11, I wish you could see how hard people fight every day."
When asked about the relationship between players and coaches, Scott Parkinson said, "You don't have to berate someone to make them a better footballer. You don't have to make someone feel embarrassed. You don't have to make someone feel small in order to make them a better footballer or make them understand their role." He added, "Coaching doesn't have to be about egotistical 'I know everything, you know nothing.' Be a good human, look after your players."
Into the Final Four Games for Gotham FC
Gotham FC has four more matches in quick succession between October 17th and 31st. Coach Parkinson acknowledged the tight schedule, but said he is evaluating the players every day and is taking it one game at a time. "I'm not afraid to rotate or bring in subs," Parkinson said. "I believe in this group!"
The team will stay on the road for their next game against the North Carolina Courage on Sunday, October 17th with kickoff at 2pm. The game will air on CBSSN.