Even after a coaching change, Gotham FC’s on-field issues run deep

Quick Hits
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC are having a disappointing season. Even after a coaching change, there’s no sugar-coating their 12 points after 13 games
  • Let’s talk about what’s going wrong for Gotham on the field in the NWSL this year
Aug 7, 2022; Bridgeview, Illinois, USA; New Jersey/New York Gotham FC midfielder Kristie Mewis (19) prior to the game against the Chicago Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports
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NJ/NY Gotham FC are having a disappointing season. There’s no sugar-coating their 4W-0D-9L record that has them in 11th place in the NWSL with 12 points after 13 games.

Last season, Gotham made history after they clinched a spot in the NWSL playoffs for the first time since the league’s inaugural season. This raised the expectation bar in NJ/NY, which may not have been a good thing for Gotham because things haven’t been clicking in 2022. 

Former head coach Scott Parkinson was let go last week and the organization quickly announced that Hue Menzies would be their interim head coach for the remainder of this season. Menzies brings real experience to NJ/NY: he was the coach who led Jamaica to their first-ever World Cup in 2019. It’s not going to be an easy road for Menzies, though. He was on the sidelines this weekend for Gotham’s match in Seattle, which they lost 4-1.

With the loss, NJ/NY is now on a four-game losing streak. In that time, they’ve conceded 15 goals and amassed a -12 goal differential. Despite playing only 13 games in 2022, they have the worst goal differential (-18) in the league.

So, what’s going on with this Gotham side?

Roster issues

One answer lies in goal. In the offseason, Gotham traded both Kailen Sheridan (San Diego Wave FC) and Didi Haračić (Angel City FC) and brought in NWSL veterans Ashlyn Harris and Michelle Betos. Both Harris and Betos bring loads of experience to the Gotham defense, but the reality is that Sheridan is in her prime and, well, Harris and Betos are both past theirs.

Allie Long’s absence also took a larger toll on this Gotham side than many were anticipating. Long had the best passing score in the league last year, per American Soccer Analysis, and quietly connected NJ/NY’s defenders and attackers all season. Bringing Kristie Mewis in was supposed to shore up the midfield, but Long and Mewis are not identical players.

Attacking woes

The biggest reason Gotham are struggling this season, though, is that they can’t seem to put the ball in the back of the net. They’ve only scored ten goals in 2022. 

To put this in perspective, the team with the next fewest goals scored (Angel City FC) has still scored four more goals than Gotham. Oh, and the team with the most goals scored (Portland Thorns FC) has scored over three times as many goals as Gotham. Somehow, Gotham are underperforming their abysmal 11.89 expected goals value, which is also lowest in the league. This team has routinely struggled to crack 1.0 xG in several matches this year and is only averaging 0.91 xG per game, per ASA.

With quality attackers like Ifeoma Onumonu and Margaret Purce, who were both around last season, Gotham’s goals and expected goals statistics really don’t make any sense. These stat lines are best explained by the fact that the team doesn’t gel on the field, and it’s hard (read: impossible) to score goals when a team struggles to possess the ball and connect passes.

And if a team can’t score goals, they’re not going to win games.

Since NJ/NY still have a few games in hand on some of their competition in the NWSL, mathematically they have a shot at playoffs. If Saturday’s performance was any indication, though, it doesn’t look like they’re headed to the postseason.