A rather forgetful 25 minutes turns into Gotham putting together a 20 minute blitz of Orlando. A glimpse of this teams potential. Here are three things we learned or in some ways reminded of.
Zerboni is still a top defensive mid (6) in the pool.
It wasn't that long ago that captain Zerboni was flirting with the national team. The biggest hurdle was no one was supplanting Ertz in the lineup at that time. Long is not a number 6 by trade. However, The way Freya set up this squad tactically, playing out of the back is crucial to this team's success, Long was better suited as the fulcrum of the midfield. Which put McCall out of position for her time at Gotham. In Long's absence, McCall has settled back in to her natural position. Each game getting closer to the player that was on the cusp of the national team. Is McCall going to complete 90 percent of her passes? Never. That was never part of her game. However, what McCall is, is a destroyer. A disrupter. Sniffing out what the opponent is trying to do and forcing them to do something else. If you are trying to traverse the middle of the field you better have your head on a swivel because McCall is going to let you know she's there.
McCall is not only a top defensive midfielder, but a tremendous leader. This team was lifeless for 25 minutes and looking like the Gotham we saw all challenge cup. Until McCall changed things. Just as the Mewis goal sparked life into Gotham FC last game, captain Zerboni was that spark this time. Her goal and leadership led this team on a 20 minute onslaught of their opponent.
Dorsey is ready for the big time
The top rated defensive player on the night and her long ball assist to Purce was simply inch perfect. Dorsey has gone from an offensive player of the year as a rookie, to one of the top defensive backs in the league. Her recent national team call-ups are well deserved. Dorsey has also become a leader on and off the field. And with a team full of veteran leaders it was Dorsey given the captains band after McCall subbed out. Often overlooked because of the world class names she plays along side, Imani has quietly risen to their level. And her potential is limitless. The next level for Dorsey is to balance that offensive player of the year prowess with her incredible defensive instincts. It's going to be an interesting battle between Dorsey and Emily Fox for minutes at the national team level. One thing is for certain. Dorsey is ready for the challenge.
It's in the DNA
After the first 25 minutes Gotham became the team we know them to be. A team that invites pressure, plays out of the back and hits teams on the counter with speedy attackers who can get behind any backline. Gotham is at it's best when it's inviting teams forward into a trap. Gotham involves their keeper in the build-up more than most teams. And it's by design. Gotham forces teams to over commit and in three clever combination passes they are on the break. They will out posses you and wear you out chasing them around. Gotham is clinically patient. Moving the ball side to side until the defense is opened up and then going straight down the channels with the speed of Paige and Purce. Gotham doesn't need many chances to hurt you.
You know what you are getting from the defense. Starting from the keeper. You are getting veteran leaders who are going to not make mistakes. They will hang in there under pressure until they can spring the offense. Bend but not break. The addition of Kristie Mewis takes this team to a whole new level. Gotham now has a player who can play players in behind from anywhere on the pitch and be cold blooded in the attack herself. McCall does not need to be the fulcrum of the midfield with Allie Long gone. That falls to Kristie. And she was masterful yesterday.
Orlando is not the toughest opponent of the season. But this was a glimpse into the potential of this team. Gotham shut things down at halftime after they were comfortably ahead. It's going to be interesting to see what this version of Gotham does against an opponent who will push them for 90 minutes.
Gotham returns to action next Saturday May 7th 10pm eastern on the road against the San Diego Wave.