By the Numbers: Key Facts for #WASvNJNY

Washington Spirit  |   July 16, 2021
By the Numbers: Key Facts for #WASvNJNY Featured Image

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 10: Washington Spirit defender Paige Nielsen (14) moves past North Carolina Courage midfielder Angharad James (34) during a game between North Carolina Courage and Washington Spirit at Audi Field on July 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Luke Bennett 

Leesburg, VA., (07/16/2021) — The Washington Spirit are set to play their tenth match of the 2021 regular season against Gotham FC on Sunday, July 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET at Segra Field. The game will be streamed on Paramount + in the United States and Twitch for international fans. 

Here are some interesting stats to take note of ahead of Sunday’s meeting:

1 – Number of points away from 1st. place in NWSL for Spirit

Sitting at 15 points with a 4-2-3 record, the Washington Spirit are a single point away from first place in the NWSL. There is currently a three-team tie between the North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, and Portland Thorns. It is no secret that all teams have a chance to win any given game in the NWSL. However, during a time of vast departures around the league because of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, there is arguably not a more open field than now. For the next several weeks, the Washington Spirit can capitalize on this and showcase its amazing depth at multiple key positions. Also worth noting, remaining at the top of the standings is beneficial as the top six teams are invited to the playoffs. The top two teams receive a playoff bye and advance to the NWSL Semifinals. 

5 – Number of goals for Ashley Hatch

After a two-goal performance in Saturday’s match against the league-leading North Carolina Courage, Ashley Hatch became the league’s top goalscorer. After a bit of a dry spell, Hatch broke into goal-scoring form in jaw-dropping fashion against the Courage, finding the back of the net seemingly effortlessly. Hatch is now tied with attackers from the league’s top teams, Orlando’s Sydney Leroux and North Carolina’s Lynn Williams. 

Even before the absence of many of the league’s top players, Hatch has become a goal-scoring stalwart this season. Nonetheless, having an attacker like Hatch while so many great players are absent, the Spirit own a significant advantage on the attacking front against opponents. Combine Hatch’s brilliance with the budding performances of attacking teammates Ashley Sanchez and Trinity Rodman, and the Spirit are a veritable offensive force. Sanchez, who fired off seven of the Spirit’s 18 shots against the Courage, is now second in the NWSL in shots (24) and shots on target (14). Meanwhile, Rodman ranks among the top five in shots (22) and shots on target (12) as well. 

10 – Number of games since Gotham conceded more than one goal

On September 20, 2020 – over 300 days ago – the Chicago Red Stars netted four goals against NY/NJ Gotham FC during the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. Since then, Gotham has not allowed opponents more than one goal. Under manager Freya Coombe, Gotham FC likes to park the bus, playing behind the ball. Because of this defensive-minded strategy, Gotham FC rarely concedes goals. On the flip side, it makes it much harder to score goals themselves. Simply put, Gotham FC likes to put all of its eggs in one basket.

This season, Gotham FC is winless (0-1-2) when opponents score at least a single goal. Contrarily, when opponents do not score, Gotham FC is undefeated (3-0-2). Penetrating the Gotham defense may be a difficult task, but if the Spirit are able to score – if only one goal – they are likely to leave the pitch with crucial points in the standings. 

7 – Number of combined yellow cards coming into the match by both teams

Both the Spirit and Gotham FC kept the referees quite busy in their most recent matches, accruing a total of seven yellow cards between the two teams. In its match against the North Carolina Courage, the Spirit’s Ashley Sanchez (29’) and Tori Huster (77’) picked up yellow cards, while another yellow was given to the bench (35’). As for Gotham FC, three players — Gina Lewandowski (10’), Margaret Purce (29’), and Nahomi Kawasumi (33’) – earned cards in the first half, while Imani Dorsey (90+2’) earned a yellow just before the end of the match. 

It will be essential for key members on both squads to play with caution as to not add to their yellow card totals, especially as depth has tightened with the departure of national team members. Furthermore, with yellows coming against many of Gotham FC’s best defensive players, perhaps this will provide an opening for the Spirit’s attack. 

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