Takeaways from the Home Opener VS OL Reign
Gotham returned to Red Bull Arena Saturday April 1st. Played a pretty good match but ultimately lost 2-0 to a very good OL Reign side. Despite the loss, there are so many little things for us to explore on the next Podcast. Due out Thursday as always. Here are three quick takeaways from the match.
Knowing who you are:
Generally, early in the season, teams that know who they are will come out of the gate well. Portland is a great example. They returned all but 2 starters from last season's championship side. One of those starters went to Gotham. The other was replaced by Crystal Dunn. Portland handled Orlando who is trying to find themselves and then handled KC who is missing a ton, added a ton of new faces and is still trying to figure things out. OL is like Portland. Returning most of their starters from last season. You could tell on the pitch how they were dialed in and one exactly what they wanted to do. Gotham will has some work to do. Like KC, some injuries, but a lot of new faces and coach that will take some time getting used to. Amoros seems to be throwing his whole philosophy at the players at once instead of building it up. Which, this veteran squad should be able to handle but expect some moments where the team looks lost on the pitch. We must be patient with this team as they figure out who they are.
The return of Sinead Farrelly
Sinead Farrelly made her first #NWSL appearance since September 4, 2015 for the Thorns. Last season, we got to interview Nicole Baxter, a player who made her first appearance in two years. Their performances were similar. A good showcase of future promise and a bit over excited and got yellow cards early into their first game back. Have to get those nerves out. What a moment for her and this league! Sinead flashed some crafty tight space escapes, vision and creativity on passes. I don't know many players that could take that much time away from the game and put on that competent of a performance. An incredible experience to see in person.
Final third issues
Gotham is relying too much on individual brilliance and not cohesiveness in the final third. Svava Guðmundsdottir playing as a lone striker for the first 45 had 6 touches. Purce and Williams both had 37 playing the whole match. Lavelle and fishlock had 50 each. Nighswonger, who's been a tremendous find had 36 touches in her 45 minute run out. Gotham just isn't finding the feet of their attackers in the final third. Part of this is the lack of cohesion and familiarity of the players and their new coaching style. This will come in time.
You can see how good the connections were with the back 5 including Long and not so much with the forwards.
Bonus item: A needed break.
Gotham can use these next two weeks to get healthy and get on the same page. When they return it begins a heavy slate of games starting with three in 8 days. Away at Orlando and then the challenge cup begins against Washington at home and then Carolina at home.
Second bonus item:
Announced crowd of 7500. Very good for a weather delayed game where the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC were playing at the same time. Good sign of things to come.