Preview: The Spirit hits the road in search of three points against NJ/NY Gotham FC

Washington Spirit  |   September 15, 2023
Preview: The Spirit hits the road in search of three points against NJ/NY Gotham FC Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (09/15/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face NJ/NY Gotham FC in both sides’ 19th match of the 2023 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. EDT at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey and will broadcast locally on NBC Sports Washington for fans in the DMV as well as nationally on Paramount+ for fans across the United States. International viewers can stream the match on


The Spirit

The Spirit enters the match occupying the sixth and final NWSL playoff-eligible spot after falling to the Chicago Red Stars, 0-2, at Audi Field on September 3. Oddly enough, the Spirit outplayed the Red Stars in many facets of the game. With 25 touches in the opponent’s box in the first half and 50 on the game, the Spirit set a new single match high since tracking began in 2016.

  • Trinity Rodman also tied a Spirit team record with five shots on goal. In the last three seasons, only Sophia Smith has put more shots on frame in a single league match than Rodman, putting six shots on target on three occasions.

The loss prolonged the Spirit’s winless drought further as the team has not picked up three points in a regular season match since June 18 at Kansas City. A couple of factors are crucial for the Spirit to get back on track and secure itself firmly in the playoff picture: scoring early and scoring first.


The Spirit has seen three consecutive matches with a scoreless first half and has won only one game (1-4-2) when conceding the opening goal this season. Striking first yields the best results for the Spirit, as the side is 5-0-5 in such matches.


Saturday marks the fourth, and final, meeting (all competitions) between the Spirit and Gotham FC this season. The season series is split 1-1-1. Gotham FC won a UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match at Red Bull Arena in April, while the Spirit earned a 4-2 Challenge Cup victory at Audi Field in July. In the lone regular season match between the sides so far this season, both teams earned a point in a 1-1 draw at Audi Field in late May.


The last time these teams met, Washington came back from two goals down to win the match, the Spirit’s second comeback win when behind at least two goals in all competitions this year. Only one other team has multiple two-goal comeback wins in a single season in league history as Gotham FC (then Sky Blue FC) did so three times in 2017.


Despite the loss on September 3, the Spirit is tied with Racing Louisville FC for the least number of losses in the NWSL with just four this season. Half of these losses came in back-to-back games that started the team’s current winless streak (June 23 at Portland and July 1 vs Orlando), the only back-to-back losses surrendered by the team this entire season.

  • A couple of notable milestones to look out for: goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury can record her 30th career regular season clean sheet with a shutout this weekend, while Rodman can tie a Spirit career record with her next assist, equaling Crystal Dunn and Diana Matheson at 11 regular season assists.


Following Saturday’s match, the Spirit gets a week off before returning to Audi Field on Saturday, September 30 to face off against the Kansas City Current. This match will kick off at 7:00 p.m. EDT and tickets can be found here.


The Opposition

NJ/NY Gotham FC will host the Spirit following a resilient comeback performance against the North Carolina Courage. Down 0-2 at halftime, Gotham FC scored three goals in 18 minutes while conceding one in the second half to eke out a point on the road against a top team.


Notably, Esther Gonzalez – a 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion with Spain and new Gotham FC addition – got to see the field as a substitute. Midge Purce also continued to be an attacking force, scoring the equalizing goal late in the second half. Her 15 career regular season goals tie her with teammate Kelley O’Hara for the third-most in team history.


Lynn Williams provided the game-tying assist against the Courage, her first assist after a run of 16 games in all competitions without one since her last assist in March 2022. The 16 consecutive games without an assist are the most in Williams’ NWSL career.


Gotham FC sits one position ahead of the Spirit with 27 points on a 7-5-6 record and is unbeaten over its last six home games (W3, D3), the longest home unbeaten streak (all competitions) in club history, surpassing five-match runs at home from September 2021 to April 2022 (W1, D4) and May to July 2016 (W3, D2). Despite this, Gotham FC’s last win came on July 9 against Portland. This is the team’s only win in its last five competitions.


Watch out for rookie defender/forward Jenna Nighswonger who has cemented herself as one of Gotham FC’s most important pieces and a NWSL Rookie of the Year frontrunner. She was named to the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup All-Tournament Team. Selected as the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft, Nighswonger has twice been named the league’s Rookie of the Month as well as a member of the league’s monthly Best XI.


Next up, Gotham FC faces the Houston Dash at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, October 1 at 6:30 p.m. EDT.



  • The Washington Spirit owns a 15-11-9 all-time record against NJ/NY Gotham FC. The 35 matches played between the two sides is the most against a single opponent in Spirit history. The same goes for the Spirit’s 27 regular season matches in which the Spirit owns a 12-9-6 record against Gotham. On the road against Gotham, the Spirit is 8-6-2, though it has 1-2-0 record at Red Bull Arena.
  • The Spirit’s all-time (+11) and regular season (+9) goal differential against Gotham is the best in club history against a single opponent.
  • Former Spirit players meet again:
    • Gotham FC defender Kelley O’Hara played with the Spirit from 2021-22. O’Hara won the 2021 NWSL Championship with the team, scoring the game-winning goal off an assist from Trinity Rodman in extra time of the championship match.
    • 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, has announced her plans to retire following this season.
    • 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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