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Match Recap: NJ/NY Gotham FC Wins Regular Season Opener 1-0 Against Portland Thorns

By Gotham FC Communications, 03/24/24, 10:15PM EDT


PORTLAND (Sunday, March 24, 2024) - NJ/NY Gotham FC opened consecutive regular seasons with a road victory after the reigning National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champion defeated the Portland Thorns 1-0 at Providence Park on Sunday. 
The up-tempo match started with end-to-end chances from both sides in the first half. Right from the opening kickoff, Gotham FC came out immediately pressing, as 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Esther recorded a shot that hit the outside netting in the first minute. 
The Thorns returned the dangerous opportunity in the third minute, when Gotham FC held a high line on a Portland counterattack. However, the center back tandem of Tierna Davidson and Sam Hiatt caught Thorns forward Sophia Smith in an offside position that called back a fastbreak goal. 
As the first half continued, Gotham FC goalkeeper Cassie Miller made a point-blank, kick save in the 10th minute. Just a few minutes later, Esther attempted a bicycle kick in the 14th minute that went straight into the goalkeeper’s hands. Then, in the 34th minute, a combination play, featuring Gotham FC defender Jenna Nighswonger, midfielder Emily Sonnett and forward Crystal Dunn, saw Dunn earn the club’s first corner of the match.
After an exciting start, both teams went scoreless into the half. 
In the 61st minute, Smith received a ball over the top and cut inside from the left flank for a strike near the top of the box into the top corner. Following a video review, the goal was disallowed due to Smith starting in an offside position. 
The Gotham FC game-winner came in the 72nd minute, when midfielder Delanie Sheehan switched the point of attack to find Bruninha on the right flank. Bruninha sent the ball up to forward Yazmeen Ryan, who sent a low, driven ball across the box that Esther finished in the back of the net. 
The goal marked Esther’s second consecutive game-winning goal for Gotham FC after scoring the NWSL Championship game-winner on Nov. 11, 2023. Esther also scored the game-winning goal in Gotham FC’s preseason tournament final to win the Women’s Cup Colombia tournament. 
With the match winding down, Miller came up with another huge save in the 75th to preserve the result.

Gotham FC will next face the North Carolina Courage on Saturday, March 30 at 7 p.m. ET (NWSL+).  
The club returns for its regular season home opener and 2023 NWSL Championship banner unveiling on April 14 at 6 p.m. ET at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey to host the Kansas City Current. Tickets are available at


Key Match Notes

  • Crystal Dunn returned to Providence Park to face her former club for the first time since joining Gotham FC as a free agent in the offseason. 
  • Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Cassie Miller and Emily Sonnett made their regular season Gotham FC debuts.
  • Esther scored the 3,000th regular season goal in NWSL history to give Gotham FC the lead in the 72nd minute. It was her fourth goal in all competitions since joining the club and third in the regular season. In all three matches where she’s scored in all competitions, she has scored the game-winner.
  • Sam Hiatt made her club debut in all competitions. She also went over 5,000 career minutes in all competitions, finishing the night with 5,051.
  • Cassie Miller posted her third shutout in as many career games at Portland in all competitions. 
  • Kelley O’Hara became the third Gotham FC player to reach 80 regular season appearances.
  • Yazmeen Ryan notched her second career Gotham FC assist. Both assists were game-winners. The first was April 22, 2023 at home against North Carolina.
  • Taryn Torres made her first Gotham FC appearance since September 17, 2022.