Preview: Spirit looks to down NJ/NY Gotham FC in clash of two of NWSL’s best

Washington Spirit  |   June 21, 2024
Preview: Spirit looks to down NJ/NY Gotham FC in clash of two of NWSL’s best Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (06/21/2024) – The Washington Spirit will face NJ/NY Gotham FC Sunday afternoon as both sides kick off the second half of their 2024 regular season campaigns. The match begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Fans can also listen to the team’s first-ever local radio broadcast on or the ESPN 630 AM website or app.


The Spirit

Last week, the Spirit experienced history as the team drew, 1-1, against San Diego Wave FC in front of the largest home crowd in Spirit club history (19,897). The Spirit put on a show for fans, extending its unbeaten streak to five games.

It took over 90 minutes of action for the Spirit to find the back of the net after applying tremendous pressure on the San Diego defense throughout the match. In fact, the Spirit held nearly 50% of possession in the final third throughout the final 15 minutes of the second half.

The equalizer came in the sixth minute of second half stoppage time when Croix Bethune buried a left-footed ball off the half volley.

Bethune is the first player in NWSL history to score multiple result-changing goals at 90’+5’ or later in regular season play. She has done so in just 13 matches. Additionally, her 96th minute goal last week was the second latest in club history, trailing only Ashley Hatch’s converted penalty kick in the tenth minute of second half stoppage time against San Diego Wave FC in 2022.

Additionally, Bethune’s equalizing goal for the Spirit on Saturday was her 13th goal contribution of the season, tied for second-most in the NWSL behind only Portland’s Sophia Smith (15). Bethune has recorded nine of her 13 goal contributions since the beginning of May, tied with Orlando’s Barbra Banda for the most in the NWSL in that time.

Last time out against Gotham FC, Bethune also put her thumbprints on the match. She broke the ice, scoring a bomb from well outside the box. Hatch added the second Spirit goal off a penalty kick. The goal marked Hatch’s 40th with the Spirit, making her the fifth player in NWSL history to score 40 regular season goals for a single club. She joined Jess Fishlock (SEA), Megan Rapinoe (SEA), Christine Sinclair (POR) and Lynn Williams (NC). She also equaled the NWSL record for consecutive penalties converted at ten.

Notably, Gotham FC provides a new challenge to the Spirit despite April’s favorable result. With a healthier lineup and improved form, Gotham enters the match with lots of momentum.

This season, Washington has won four of its six away matches after winning just three of 22 road matches in league play over the previous two years (3-7-12). With back-to-back wins on the road, the Spirit is looking to secure three straight road wins for the first time in club history.

Next up, the Spirit returns to Audi Field for a special Pride Night. The Spirit will face the North Carolina Courage on Saturday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. Fans should secure their tickets early following the Spirit’s most recent – and record-breaking – crowd.


The Opposition

NJ/NY Gotham FC may be the hottest team in the NWSL. Since April 20, Gotham FC is unbeaten in nine matches at 7-0-2. The last Gotham FC loss? It’s 0-2 shutout defeat to the Washington Spirit.

The five most recent matches have all been victories for Gotham FC, scoring two goals in each of those matches. The team is one win short of tying the club’s win streak record of six wins set between July 2014 and April 2015.

The Spirit and Gotham FC share its most recent opponent in San Diego. On Wednesday, Gotham FC defeated the Wave, 2-1, off a stoppage time goal from the side’s lone rookie, Maycee Bell.

Gotham dominated possession — something it has a penchant for — in this match, including an impressive first half that saw over 60% possession, six shots on goal and 248 passes completed. All the while, the team held San Diego to no goals. Gotham has held its opponent scoreless in 10 of its 13 first halves this season, most in the NWSL. Additionally, those 248 passes were executed with over 86% accuracy, third-best in club history for a half.

Two X-factors for Gotham FC of late: Rose Lavelle and Ann-Katrin Berger.

Lavelle’s goal on Wednesday was her 15th across all NWSL competitions in her career. The left-footed strike was her third career NWSL goal from outside the box — 20% of all her NWSL goals have come from outside the box. Four of Lavelle’s 24 career goals for the USWNT have also come from outside the box (16.7%).

Berger has been crucial in extending Gotham FC’s unbeaten streak. A mid-season addition to the Starting XI, Berger came to the NWSL by way of Chelsea F.C. Berger picked up her seventh win in only nine matches on Wednesday.

Six of the last seven meetings between Gotham FC and Washington across all competitions have been won by the home team (one draw), including the last three played at Red Bull Arena. Prior to this run, Washington had lost only one of its previous 11 away matches against Gotham (8-1-2).

Following its match against the Spirit, Gotham FC stays home to face Seattle Reign FC on Sunday, June 30 at 1 p.m. EDT.



• The Spirit owns a 13-10-6 regular season record against NJ/NY Gotham FC. The 29 regular season competitions against Gotham FC marks the most against any single Spirit opponent. The Spirit has a winning record at home (7-4-4) and away (6-6-2) as well as a +8 goal differential (42-34). Additionally, in three regular season matchups at Audi Field against Gotham, the Spirit has never lost (2-0-1).

• At 9-3-1 (28 points), the Spirit is off to the team’s best start in team history in both wins (9) and points (28).

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