Preview: Washington Spirit set to face NJ/NY Gotham FC in first of four straight home matches

Washington Spirit  |   May 27, 2023
Preview: Washington Spirit set to face NJ/NY Gotham FC in first of four straight home matches Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (05/27/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face NJ/NY Gotham FC Sunday evening in both sides’ ninth regular season match of the 2023 season. The match kicks off at 5 p.m. EDT at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. and will broadcast on Paramount+ for fans across the United States. International viewers can stream the match on as well.


The Spirit

The Spirit comes into Sunday’s match off a 2-1 loss to the Orlando Pride – it was the Spirit’s first loss of the 2023 regular season. The defeat ended the franchise’s longest unbeaten streak at seven games and enabled NJ/NY Gotham FC, Portland Thorns FC and San Diego Wave FC to leapfrog the then-first place Spirit.


In the match, the Spirit conceded twice – a rare occurrence for the Spirit defense, who entered that match with the fewest (5) goals allowed in the league – including Marta’s first goal since October 2021. Defender Sam Staab scored the only Spirit goal, extending her streak of scoring in every regular season of her career. Inès Jaurena assisted on the goal – her first career NWSL assist.


The previous matchup against Gotham FC, the Spirit was handed its first loss of the 2023 season (all competitions), losing 1-0 in the first 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match of the season. The lone goal came off the foot of Lynn Williams in the 56th minute.


Sunday’s match marks the Spirit’s first game at Audi Field since May 10th. In regular season matches at Audi Field this season, the Spirit remains unbeaten (W2, 1D), conceding a league-low one goal in those games. In four games at Audi Field through all competitions this season, the Spirit have won three games, lost zero games, and recorded a +5 goal differential.


Additionally, the Spirit has won five of the last seven home matches in all competitions dating back to last September. In 23 all-time games (all competitions) played at Audi Field, the Spirit has lost only three times (excluding forfeits). The team has a +18 goal differential in those games.


The Spirit is one of four teams in the league with over a 50% shooting accuracy and 40+ shots on target, respectively. In both statistical categories, three of the top four teams represent three of the top four on the NWSL table.


Both the Spirit and Gotham FC, however, have displayed incredible parity across a number of statistical categories – notably, expected goals and expected goals allowed. The Spirit ranks third with a 12.3 expected goal tally, while Gotham FC ranks fourth with an 11.49 expected goal tally. Both teams have scored 11 goals on the season. The same is true for expected goals: The Spirit ranks fourth with 9.31, Gotham FC ranks fifth with 10.4 and both sides have conceded a league-low seven goals on the season.


Finally, with any playing time in Sunday’s match, midfielder Ashley Sanchez will earn her 50th career regular season appearance.


Following Sunday’s match, the Spirit will continue its four-game homestand at Audi Field, playing Racing Louisville FC on Saturday, June 3rd at 8 p.m. EDT.


The Opposition

NJ/NY Gotham FC is perhaps the hottest team in the NWSL, coming off a decisive 4-1 victory on the road against OL Reign. Gotham FC was up 4-0 before conceding a goal to Jordyn Huitema in the 77th. Half of Gotham FC’s 14 shots were on goal.


The three points launched the heavily rebuilt side into first place on the NWSL table for the first time since July 2013. The team leads the trio of Portland, San Diego and Washington by one point. Last season, Gotham FC finished last on the NWSL table, mustering 13 points and earning defeats in 17 games.


Forward Lynn Williams has been essential to the team’s success this season, tied for the Golden Boot lead (5 goals) and scoring seven goals through all competitions this season. She has game-winning goals in half of Gotham FC’s eight games, accounting for 12 of the team’s 16 total points. Williams has also scored a goal in seven of her last ten appearances in all NWSL competitions, including Gotham FC’s win at OL Reign. Scoring in 59 different matches in her career, Williams is tied with Sam Kerr and Christine Sinclair for most in NWSL history. She also ranks second in the NWSL with 29 shots and 18 shots on goal this season.


In its last 11 meetings with the Spirit, Gotham FC has lost only three times in all competitions since 2020 (W4, D4). Previously, Gotham FC lost eight of the previous ten meetings from late 2016 through 2019.


Gotham FC has won four of its first five regular season road matches this year, the fifth team in NWSL history to win four of its first five on the road and the first since the North Carolina Courage in 2018 (5).


Next up, NJ/NY Gotham FC returns home to play San Diego Wave FC at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, June 4th at 6 p.m. EDT.



  • The Spirit owns a 14-11-8 all-time record versus NJ/NY Gotham FC. The 33 matches are the most the Spirit has played against a single opponent in franchise history. At home, the Spirit has a 6-5-5 record, however, has never lost to Gotham FC at Audi Field. Gotham hasn’t won consecutive matches against Washington since 2016.
  • With two goals through all competitions this season, Sam Staab has scored multiple times in a season for the first time in her career. All six of her career goals have come off set pieces, including four from corners.
  • Of goalkeepers who have recorded 20 or more saves, Aubrey Kingsbury is the only one who has not conceded a goal from outside the box. She has eight saves on shots from outside the box.
  • Gotham FC leads the NWSL in both duels won (439, over 25 more than the next closest team) and shots outside the box (47). This comes in contrast with the team’s 97 crosses – a league low by more than 10 crosses.
  • Gotham FC is the most disciplined team in the NWSL, with 15 yellow cards. Midfielder Yazmeen Ryan has accounted for four yellow cards (a league high) herself.
  • Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury spent the 2015 season with Gotham FC (then Sky Blue FC), making one appearance with the side.
  • Former Spirit players meet again:
    • Gotham FC defender Kelley O’Hara played with the Spirit from 2021-22. O’Hara won an NWSL Championship with the team, scoring the game-winning goal off an assist from Trinity Rodman in extra time of the championship game.
    • Gotham FC defender Ali Krieger played with the Spirit from 2013-16. Krieger, who played for Mark Parsons during his first stint as Spirit head coach, is embarking on her final season in the NWSL.
    • Gotham FC midfielder Kristie Mewis played the first half of the 2017 season with the Spirit.
    • Gotham FC forward Taylor Smith played for the Spirit in 2018, starting in all 23 games in her lone season with the team.
  • Former college teammates meet again:
    • Spirit midfielder Ashley Sanchez played with Gotham FC midfielder Delanie Sheehan at UCLA (2017-19).
    • Spirit midfielder Marissa Sheva played with Gotham FC defender Ellie Jean at Penn State (2015-18).
    • Spirit defender Gabrielle Carle played with Gotham FC forward Jenna Nighswonger at Florida State (2019-21).
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