Gotham FC (9th 4-0-6 12p) returns from the break with a potentially full health roster. They face a Houston (4th 5-3-4, 18p) squad featuring multiple attacking options. They face off on Sunday 7/31 5pm at Red Bull Arena, Harrison NJ. Paramount +.
Referee for this match is Adorae Monroy. Adorae (RBT, CBT, B.A. Psychology) is also a behavioral health technician. Been with US Soccer for 10 years.
Both teams are in a bit of a funk. A combined 3-0-7 across each teams last 5 games. Portland beating both teams 5-0 and 4-0 respectively. Historically, Gotham (Sky Blue) has gotten the better of these matchups. 7-3-5 overall.
Last time out was quite a game. Mid summer heat in Houston. Gotham was without Carli Lloyd and Paige Monaghan. Midge Purce left early in the game with an injury. This left Ifeoma as the lone attacking threat. Gotham goes down 1-0 in the 51st. Felt like climbing back into this game was going to be a monumental task in that heat. Onumonu, like she did multiple times last season, came through when the team needed her the most. She was fantastic in this game. She was breaking lines and getting dangerous shots off. One after another. She just didn't quit. 89th minute Ifeoma gets played through on the right side of the 6 by Delanie Sheehan and she drives the ball far post to get the goal. This game could be pointed to as a turning point in the season. Gotham barely made the playoffs last year. This point Ifeoma saved, like many others is the reason Gotham crossed the line.
This year's Houston Dash are quite different. Similar stars in Daly, Groom, Prince (who leads the team with 5 goals and 2 assists. The main difference between between this year's Houston and last year is the addition of Ebony Salmon and Maria Sanchez. Much like the impact Taylor Smith has had for Gotham, Ebony brings a much needed energy off the bench. This Houston team can keep pressure on all game. Maria Sanchez is a tremendously dangerous attacker, who's creativity and ability to get dangerous balls in are really impactful.
Reason to be optimistic:
Houston has not kept a clean sheet in their past 5 matches. Gotham, with all their attackers back and healthy should be able to get a goal or two. Onumonu, Purce, Monaghan and Kawasumi have all scored against Houston in the past three outings.
Reason to be pessimistic:
Gotham, also has not kept a clean sheet in 5 matches. Houston is second in goals scored this season and are the number 1 ranked team away from home.
I just want goals. Perhaps manifesting a win, heck, even a draw is probably not in the cards for Gotham given their current form. However, if they go down, go down swinging. This appears to be a goal fest on paper. Both teams are struggling defensively.
Prove the fans wrong. The vibe surrounding this team is bleak. There haven't been many reasons to be excited so far this season. The fans are rightfully aggrieved at the performance of a team that is talent heavy. Most fans are pessimistic at this current iteration making the playoffs. The following poll was taken July 4th. Before Gotham got trounced by Portland 5-0.
At this point we hope, desperately, this team with it's returning starters from internationally duty can pull it together and go on a run. I don't see it happening. But, I will be overly excited to be wrong here. Let's go Gotham! Prove us wrong!