Gotham FC were picked apart in its 2-0 loss to the KC Current at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday: What had been a nearly impenetrable backline conceded twice to Current forward Debinha. It was the second loss of the season for Gotham, who currently sit in fifth place with nine points after five games.
“In the first half we applied the game plan, had opportunities to take the lead and defended well, but in the second half, [the Current] were more effective and goals change games,” said Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amorós. “Debinha is very difficult to mark because of the mix of her movements, she drops, she goes in behind, and can cause a lot of trouble.”
Gotham FC: 13 shots, 3 on goal, 57.5% possession, 442 passes, 76% accuracy, 13 fouls
Kansas City Current: 12 shots, 7 on goal, 42.5% possession, 330 passes, 68.5% accuracy, 11 fouls
Debinha doubles up
Debinha was able to move in dangerous spaces by getting around Bruninha, who returned to right-back after being repositioned since the loss to OL Reign. The 31-year-old found her first chance after a give-and-go pass with Cece Kizer got her past Bruninha and in front of goal. Abby Smith’s near post save was the first of many, but Debinha was just getting started.
Debinha responded to a turnover in midfield by slipping past Bruninha, who was pushed higher up alongside a majority of Gotham’s backline. Kept onside by a trailing Ali Krieger, Debinha ran onto the through ball and finished her one-on-one chance against Smith.
Kansas City ramped up its attack after breaking the deadlock and doubled its lead four minutes later. Smith, who stood as the reason Gotham remained in the game up until that point, gifted the hosts its second goal.
The 29-year-old shot-stopper rushed way off her line to beat Kansas City’s Michelle Cooper to a long pass down the right side. Cooper won the foot race and eventually lofted the ball into the box. A scramble saw the ball eventually land at Debinha’s feet before the forward fired into the empty net.
Gotham was largely unable to work up effective offensive chances for themselves. Struggles to move the ball out of the back through Ali Krieger ann Ellie Jean forced Gotham into long balls toward its wingers through Kristie Mewis and Allie Long. This left Taylor Smith and Yazmeenn Ryan to make space and chances for themselves, the best coming when Ryan’s cut back and eventual shot was deflected into the path of Lynn Williams who was denied by KC goalkeeper Cassie Miller from close range.
“They are committed to the style of play that we’re asking them to play and to add that winning mentality into the club or shows with how upset they are,” Amoró said. “It’s the team’s fault for losing today and it’s because of the hunger they have to win.”
A packed schedule gives Gotham a quick turnaround to put Sunday’s loss behind them. Amorós and Co travel to WakeMed Soccer Park next for Wednesday’s Challenge Cup match against the North Carolina Courage.
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Tale of two halves
Abby Smith went into the halftime break as the early favorite for Player of the Match. There was a much different story after the final whistle.
Smith was called upon three times to keep Kansas City off the scoresheet in the first half. First stopping Debinha, Smith was called upon to deny Mimmi Larsson in the 29th minute. The Current forward let a pass roll in front of her to gain a step on Krieger before firing at goal. Smith was equal to the clever move and caught the attempt from around 13 yards.
Her quick decision to come off her line was the difference in denying CeCe Kizer in the 30th minute. That same effort cost Gotham in the 61st.
Smith was lured into coming well out of the box to cut out a non-threatening pass. Once the error was made and Smith was beat she chose to chase Cooper rather than sprint back to her line. Given how the ball bounced around the box before getting shot, Smith may have had a chance to get a hand on Debinha’s effort. Instead, she was a few steps behind and forced to watch the ball fire into the empty net.
“Players do a lot of good things and sometimes mistakes but I think if you look at the performance of Abby overall apart from that moment, was unbelievable,” Amorós said. “If we are effective in front of goal and [the result] is the other way everyone will be talking probably about how good she’s been. So it’s a really unfortunate position because goalkeepers normally get highlighted more when there is a mistake than when there is a job well done