[Editor’s note: There is some question as to whether this match will take place tonight with wildfires wreaking havoc with the air quality in the area. The Pride and Gotham FC have been in contact with the NWSL, which is monitoring the situation.]
Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 point) take on NJ/NY Gotham FC (1-0-1, 4 points) at Red Bull Arena in the NWSL Challenge Cup. This is the first of two Challenge Cup meetings between these two teams, with the second game in Orlando scheduled for June 28.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride have faced Gotham FC 21 times since joining the NWSL in 2016. They’re 7-8-6 in all competitions and 4-2-4 away from home. In Challenge Cup games, the Pride are 0-2-1 in three games against Gotham and 0-0-1 up north.
This is the second time the two teams have met at Red Bull Arena this year. The first meeting came on May 14 in regular season play. The Pride were the better team and created more chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net and the game ended in a scoreless draw.
The Pride and Gotham met for the first time this season on April 15 at Exploria Stadium. The game looked to be headed for a draw, but Gotham struck twice in second-half injury time. Midge Purce converted a penalty 10 minutes into stoppage time for the latest goal in NWSL history. The attacker then assisted Lynn Williams seven minutes later, setting a new record as the Pride fell 2-0. The Professional Referee Organization stated publicly that the penalty given for a handball on Caitlin Cosme did not meet its standards for being clear and obvious enough for a review, but that won’t change the standings.
The two teams met four times last season, twice in the NWSL regular season and twice in the Challenge Cup. The first game was a Challenge Cup meeting on March 30 at Exploria Stadium. It looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw before Purce scored a late winner. The next meeting was April 23 at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. Gunny Jonsdottir gave the Pride the lead, but Toni Pressley got tangled up with Ifeoma Onumonu, resulting in a penalty. Anna Moorhouse guessed the right way, but Kristie Mewis put it into the bottom corner, evening the game just before the half. Neither team could find a winner and it ended 1-1.
The teams opened the 2022 NWSL regular season against each other on May 1 in Orlando. After two close match-ups in the preseason, this one was all Gotham as goals by McCall Zerboni, Purce, and Mewis lifted the visitors to a 3-0 win. On Aug. 20, they played for the final time in 2022 at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. Celia and Ally Watt built the Pride a 2-0 lead. Mewis got one back for the hosts, but the Pride held on for a 2-1 win.
The Pride and Gotham also met four times in 2021, with the first coming in the Pride’s inaugural Challenge Cup campaign. On April 14, Paige Monaghan’s goal lifted Gotham to a 1-0 win. The first regular-season game that year came on June 20 in Orlando. The visitors took the lead through Caprice Dydasco, but Courtney Petersen equalized, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
On Aug. 29, the teams played at Red Bull Arena. Erika Tymrak’s long-range goal lifted the Pride to a 2-1 win. The teams played one final, high-scoring game on Oct. 9. It was a bad start for the Pride as Gaetane Thiney scored a brace and Purce made it 3-0 late. But the Pride came storming back with goals by Tymrak and Marta, falling just short in a 3-2 final.
The Pride and Gotham were in different groups for the 2020 Fall Series, so the last time they met prior to 2021 was in 2019, when the New Jersey-based club was still called Sky Blue FC. They first met that year on June 22 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ. Chioma Ubogagu gave the Pride the lead from the penalty spot and Sarah Killion equalized. The difference was a Gina Lewandowski own goal as the Pride won 2-1. On July 20, they met at Exploria Stadium. Marisa Viggiano’s goal won it for the Pride, 1-0. The final game occurred on Sept. 29 in New Jersey. Shelina Zadorsky gave the Pride the lead, but Carli Lloyd equalized in a 1-1 draw.
The teams met three times in 2018, starting on June 16 in Orlando, when a Sydney Leroux brace led the Pride to a 3-2 win. They met again in Orlando on Aug. 5, with the Pride giving up a 1-0 after Marta’s opening goal. But Dani Weatherholt equalized in a 2-2 draw. The final meeting in 2018 came on Sept. 8 in New Jersey — the final game of the season. There was only one goal in this one as Lloyd won it for Sky Blue FC.
The 2017 season saw the Pride and Sky Blue meet three times. The first was May 27 in New Jersey, where the Pride lost 2-1. They met again in New Jersey on June 28 and the Pride won, 3-2. The final meeting was on Aug. 12 in Orlando and the Pride won by its largest margin in team history, beating Sky Blue, 5-0.
The 2016 season was the first time the two teams met, with the inaugural game coming on Sept. 7 in New Jersey. Alex Morgan and Sam Kerr swapped goals in a 1-1 draw. They met again three days later in Orlando, with Sky Blue winning, 2-1.
The Pride scored first in each of their first two Challenge Cup games this year. Ally Watt gave the Pride the lead at Exploria Stadium on April 19 against the North Carolina Courage in the 56th minute. It looked like they would hold on for three points, but Denise O’Sullivan scored nine minutes into second-half injury time to equalize. The second game was against the Washington Spirit at Audi Field and Tori Hansen gave the visitors the lead just 10 minutes into the game. But an onslaught of long-distance goals lifted the Spirit to a 4-2 win.
The Pride look to get their first Challenge Cup win of 2023 tonight in New Jersey. The squad will be heavily rotated, especially with the Portland Thorns coming to town on Sunday night. While the team will still look to bring home the three points, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines will use this game as an opportunity to get playing time for players.
Similar to the Pride, Gotham used arguably its best lineup in the first Challenge Cup game against the Spirit. Lynn Williams’ 56th-minute goal was the difference in a 1-0 result. Gotham heavily rotated its lineup for the second game on May 3, a 1-1 draw with the Courage. It conceded just three minutes into the game, but went for the win by bringing on Kristie Mewis, Ali Krieger, and Williams at halftime. Williams equalized late and Gotham took a point from the game.
Gotham’s plan tonight will likely be similar to its second game. The Pride will need to get a good start to the game, because Hines has shown little interest in bringing regular starters into Challenge Cup games. If the Pride want to get three points, they’ll need to score before Gotham’s attacking starters come on.
“Obviously, (Gotham is) looking to win a game the same as us. Playing them a couple of times, they may change shape, they may change formation depending on the personnel they have, but we have to focus on ourselves,” Hines said about tonight’s opponent. “We’re looking to bounce back from this weekend and get three points and keep getting momentum and getting that ball rolling again. Momentum is such a key factor in a season so getting a win against Jersey will be great for the squad and the players.”
The Pride will play this game without Carrie Lawrence (knee) and Erika Tymrak (ankle). Kaylie Collins (hand) and Amanda Allen (lower leg) are listed as questionable. Gotham will be without Imani Dorsey (excused absence), Sabrina Flores (foot), Kelley O’Hara (ankle), Midge Purce (hip), and Taryn Torres (knee).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Carly Nelson.
Defenders: Celia, Tori Hansen, Caitlin Cosme, Brianna Martinez.
Defensive Midfielders: Jordyn Listro, Kerry Abello.
Midfielders: Haley Bugeja, Thais Reiss, Summer Yates.
Forwards: Julie Doyle.
NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Michelle Betos.
Defenders: Jenna Nighswonger, Ellie Jean, Mandy Freeman, Bruninha.
Midfielders: McCall Zerboni, Nealy Martin, Sinead Farrelly.
Forwards: Svana Ros Gudmundsdottir, Delanie Sheehan, Ifeoma Onumonu.
REF: Greg Dopka.
AR1: Stephen Milhoan.
AR2: Jessica Carnevale.
4TH: Sergii Boiko.
VAR: Daniel Radford.
AVAR: Emma Richards.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, NJ.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Streaming: NWSLsoccer.com (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!