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What we learned from Orlando

Gary Gibson

Late dramatics sink Orlando. Gotham Scores the 2 latest goals in NWSL history and prevail over a young but hungry Pride side on a very humid night to earn their second win in 3 games to start the 2023 season.

A little luck finally befalls this Gotham side who had dominated large stretches of this match but failed to find a breakthrough. A handball was called in the 99th minute and Midge rockets the shot into the roof of the net. But Gotham isn't done here. As Orlando over commits forward Lynn Williams makes a brilliant diagonal run across the backline and tracks down a long ball. The defender for Orlando takes a bad angle thinking Williams was going to the corner. Instead Lyn goes to goal and curls a ball far post. The latest goal ever scored in NWSL history. Clocking in at the 106th minute. Her 59th goal of all time. Tying her with Sinclair for the second most all time. Here is what we learned.

NWSL needs a new streaming partner.

38 minutes are missing from the broadcast of this game. Because of this, every stat collecting firm couldn't give any analysis of this match. It does speak to a larger problem of being reliant on one avenue to get this data and if it fails the whole system fails with it. With the incredible increase in growth of women's soccer I hope they find a streaming partner willing to invest in this sport and take it to another level.

"Woman's football is on a growth trajectory unlike any other sport in this world. It's the biggest growth opportunity that FIFA as an organization have today but more importantly, our sport, football, has today. It's the biggest growth opportunity there is. And you don't have to look too far back to see the indicators of that growth," Bareman said. (ESPN 2022)

The rookie is good!

Jenna Nighswonger, the rookie out of FSU has been one of the standout players so far this season for Gotham. Looks like she needed no time adjusting to the big leagues straight out of college. Calm, composed and equal to the speed of the game at this level. Has created 4 chances and is completing 75 percent of her passes despite being asked to play multiple positions along the left side. Looks like a natural and a candidate for rookie of the year if she can find a final product.

Gotham's depth is unreal

Farrelly, T Smith, Purce, Jean and Zerboni came off the bench in this one. They also had Krieger and Imani Dorsey in reserve. Not only that, rising Brazilian superstar Bruninha, Icelandic national teamer Svava Rós Guðmundsdóttir, Michelle Betos and Nahomi Kawasumi did not even make the 18. This bodes well for Gotham as they enter the challenge cup and 3 games in one week.

If Gotham figures out how to score first

The defense has already shown remarkable turnaround from last season. Thanks in part to the arrival's of veterans Kelley O'Hara and Kristen Edmonds. Edmonds has been nothing short of impeccable. Leading the line after legend Ali Krieger left the first game with a calf injury. Another reason is the return of the pass completing machine known as Ali Long. Ali is the tempo setter and she breaks pressure with ease. Often pulling teams around the field with clever switches of play and line breaking balls out of the back.

If Gotham can score first, this will allow this team, with it's depth of attackers and it's stout defense to really punish teams if they come forward as seen in Orlando. Gotham hopefully get's to test out this theory as they enter the challenge Cup this Wednesday against the Washington Spirit at home.

Washington comes into this match undefeated. Scoring victories against OL Reign and the Courage. Drawing against Racing Louisville in between. Lead by their attacking trio of Rodman, Hatch and Sanchez. They are always a formidable foe. However, with this being the second match in 4 days the depth of the Spirit will be tested. Both teams should be rotated and that should be an advantage to the deep Gotham side.

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