Preview: Spirit looks to extend win streak against reigning NWSL Champs, Gotham FC

Washington Spirit  |   April 19, 2024
Preview: Spirit looks to extend win streak against reigning NWSL Champs, Gotham FC Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (04/19/2024) – The Washington Spirit will face Gotham FC in a black out of Audi Field. The match kicks off at 1 p.m. EDT at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. and will be nationally broadcast on CBS – the first NWSL match on CBS this season.


The Spirit

Most recently, the Spirit picked up three points via a 3-1 road victory versus the Houston Dash. Scoring three second half goals, the Spirit erased a first-minute lead by Houston. The two-goal victory marked the first time on the road in team history and the first time since a 2-0 home victory in June 2017 that the Spirit defeated Houston by more than one goal. The Spirit has now won three straight matches for the first time since 2021 and earned the club’s first three-game regular season win streak since the last two games of 2021 and first of 2022. The nine points through four matches are the second-most at this stage of a season in team history behind only 2016 (10).


Rookies Hal Hershfelt and Croix Bethune shined. Scoring the equalizer last Friday, Hershfelt became the first rookie in Spirit history to score two or more goals in the first four matches of the season. The only other player to score two or more goals in their first four games with the Spirit was Diana Matheson in the NWSL’s inaugural year of 2013. When Bethune netted a beautiful cross from Gabby Carle, the first-year starter joined Hershfelt in accomplishing this accolade.


The duo scored in the same match for the second time this season, after doing so in the team’s home opener on March 23. The only other pair of teammates to score in the same match twice this season are Kansas City’s Bia Zaneratto and Vanessa DiBernardo.


This will be the 37th meeting between Washington and Gotham FC across all NWSL competitions, the second most-played match in league history (Thorns vs. Reign – 38 meetings). The Spirit has lost only one of its eight regular season home matches against Gotham FC (W5, D2) since July 2016. Last season, the Spirit earned a 1-2-1 record against Gotham FC (all competitions), with the team’s sole victory coming in the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup.


Last week, Interim Head Coach Adrián González took part in the first-ever all-Spanish head coach matchup in NWSL history. History will repeat itself only one week later as González will go head-to-head with Gotham FC Head Coach Juan Carlos Amorós.


Notably, Gotham FC’s roster contains several former Spirit players, including NWSL Championship winners Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett. USWNT members Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn also previously played for the Spirit.


Saturday’s match will also be a test of veteran savvy versus youth. Gotham FC’s roster includes seven players over the age of 30 and has an average age of 27.71 — over two years older than the average age of the Spirit (25.70). This season, the Spirit has started six players aged 25 or younger.


The Audi Field homestand continues for the Spirit next week as the team faces off against the Orlando Pride on Superhero Night next Friday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Fans can get tickets here in order to ensure their chance at a very special giveaway.


The Opposition

NJ/NY Gotham is coming off the heels of a 1-1 stalemate with the Kansas City Current, who currently sits at the top of the NWSL table having not dropped a match this season. Gotham FC put an end to Kansas City’s three-game win streak and red-hot start. The match was Gotham FC’s first home match of the regular season. The team will play its third road game in four total regular season matches when traveling to Audi Field on Saturday.


After conceding an early goal, Gotham FC found a second half equalizer off the head of Esther. She has scored four goals in eight regular season matches with Gotham FC. During her last six seasons in Spain’s Liga F, Esther scored 16 headed goals, second-most in that time (Mari Paz Vilas – 20).


Like the Spirit’s first and most recent match, Gotham FC started slow last match, and took time to find its rhythm. You may find both teams eager to come out of the gates hot on Saturday, looking to establish a strong start.


Since the arrival of Juan Carlos Amorós, Gotham FC has established itself as a defensive juggernaut – a puzzle the Spirit will have to solve in order to earn three points this weekend. Going back to last season’s playoffs, Gotham FC has not allowed more than one goal in any of its last seven NWSL matches (four goals allowed total). Gotham FC has conceded multiple goals just eight times across all competitions since the beginning of last year, fewest in the NWSL among teams that played in 2023.


Of note, Crystal Dunn made her 150th appearance (all NWSL competitions) last week, becoming the 48th player in league history to do so. Additionally, Lynn Williams, who made her 2024 debut as a second half substitute last week, has scored eight goals against Washington across all competitions in her career.


Next up, Gotham FC returns home to play Racing Louisville FC on Sunday, April 28 at 5: p.m. EDT.



• The Spirit owns a 12-10-6 all-time regular season record against NJ/NY Gotham FC. The 28 regular season competitions against Gotham FC marks the most against any single Spirit opponent. The Spirit has a winning record at home (6-4-4) as well as away (6-6-2) and +6 goal differential (40-34). Additionally, in two regular season matchups at Audi Field against Gotham FC, the Spirit has never lost (1-0-1).

Andi Sullivan will be honored after the match as she eclipsed the 100 regular season appearances milestone last match. Sullivan, a long-time Spirit captain and former No. 1 overall pick, joinsTori Huster (159), Aubrey Kingsbury (110) and Ashley Hatch (109) as the only players to appear in 100 or more regular season matches with the team.

Gabby Carle and Casey Krueger, playing on the exterior of the Spirit backline, both logged assists in Washington’s last match. Look for them to help the Spirit attack build out of the back and create chances. Krueger actually earned her first career assist with the Spirit when connecting with fellow offseason free agent signee Brittany Ratcliffe for the game-winner in Houston.

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