Welcome to the 2023 NWSL Championship Quarterfinals, which has Gotham FC traveling down to the Research Triangle to play the North Carolina Courage at WakeMed Soccer Park. Gotham’s third postseason appearance in club history takes place just one year after the team finished dead last in the league: Here is your Gotham vs North Carolina Game Day Hub.
Game Day Essentials
- NWSL Championship Quarterfinals: North Carolina Courage vs Gotham FC
- Date and Time: Sunday, October 22, 7:00 pm ET
- Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park
- Forecast: Clear, pleasant, 63˚F/17˚C
- Watch: CBS Sports Network
- Officiating Crew: Ekaterina Koroleva (referee), Joe Suchoski and Jennifer Garner (assistant referees), Karen Callado (fourth official), Kevin Broadley (VAR), Kaili Terry (assistant VAR)
Gotham vs North Carolina preview
Not much separates these two teams despite what the table may say. North Carolina finished the season with 33 points, which put them in third place and gives them the right to host this match. But Gotham finished close behind with 31 points: Had they held the lead on their Decision Day matchup with the Kansas City Current instead of ending the season with a draw, Gotham would have finished in fourth place, and would be hosting the OL Reign at Red Bull Arena today.
To look at it another way, North Carolina owe their playoff appearance to a lucky break on Decision Day, when they beat a heavily favored Washington Spirit after star player Trinity Rodman was shown a red card. Not only were Gotham on goal away from finishing closer to the top of the table, the Courage were one favorable call away from finishing outside the playoff zone.
Gotham vs North Carolina H2H
North Carolina dominate the historical head-to-head between these two teams with 14 wins out of 26 games played.
But the recent history between the two sides favors Gotham, who have two wins, two draws, and one loss in their last five meetings. Gotham drew at North Carolina twice this year: There was the 3-3 draw on September 2 in NWSL league play, and the 1-1 draw on May 3 in the NWSL Challenge Cup that saw Lynn Williams salvage a point with an elegant equalizer.
One observation: These two teams like to score against each other. Gotham and North Carolina have combined for an eye-popping 76 goals in their 26 meetings, which works out to 2.92 goals per game.
- Player Availability: Gotham continue to be without goalkeeper Abby Smith, defender Taylor Smith, midfielder Taryn Torres, and midfielder McCall Zerboni. Defender Imani Dorsey is out with an excused absence. Midfielder Kristie Mewis, rookie hotshot Jenna Nighswonger, and defender Kelley O’Hara are questionable.
- Forward Ifeoma Onumonu is expected to return to the squad, adding depth to an attack that is scintillating on paper but that have come up short in recent matches.
- Speaking of, will Gotham’s attacking trio of Esther Gonzalez, Lynn Williams, and Midge Purce live up to their billing? The three should be among the best in the league, but Gotham were held scoreless in two of their final three games of the season.
- Will the defense find their form? Head coach Juan Carlos Amorós was forced to tinker with the back line in recent games, and this week’s player availability does him no favors. Gotham have allowed eight goals in their last five games.
- Player Availability: North Carolina are without midfielder Emily Gray, midfielder Riley Jackson, forward Rikako Kobayashi, midfielder Victoria Pickett, midfielder Clara Robbins, midfielder Meredith Speck, and forward Olivia Wingate.
- Most important, Golden Boot runner-up Golden Kerolin (10 goals) is unlikely to feature for North Carolina. She accounted for more than one-third of North Carolina’s 29 goals this season,
- Will Manaka Matsukubo and Tess Boade step up and lead the attack? You can only win if you score.
- Will this be a game decided by North Carolina’s defense? The Courage gave up the second-fewest goals in the league, and they have to like their chances against a Gotham attack that have been streaky.
- Learn more about the Courage in Oppo Research: 5 Things about the North Carolina Courage.