|photo from Getty Images
by Anthony J. Merced
Gotham FC are heading into one of the biggest games of their history against the Portland Thorns on Sunday evening but appear to be handling the pressure well according to head coach Juan Carlos Amoros. The first-year skipper of Gotham has led the team to a huge turnaround from 2022, making the playoffs, getting their first playoff win and coming within one game of the NWSL Championship.
"Pressure is something that is subjective," said Amoros during the team's pre-game press conference. "We put pressure on ourselves on day one to win football games and that's what got us here. For us it is a special game because it is a semi-final, which has certain aspects that are different from the regular season. There has to be a winner."
Portland and Gotham are not strangers, having played each other twice in 2023 and most recently in early October. Then it was a 1-0 win for the Thorns but all statistics pointed to a well balanced game between the two. Earlier in the year, Gotham took the win from the Thorns at Red Bull Arena, leaving both teams feeling as though a win is possible.
Gotham is also going into the game with added confidence, having won 2-0 at North Carolina, while also boasting the most away wins in the NWSL of any team left in the playoffs. That may seem as though Gotham has the upper hand going into the contest but coach Amoros sees this as a battle between two teams that are well versed in their game plans.
"We are two teams that have a very clear styles of play," said head coach Amoros. "We can hurt them if we play our best on and off the ball. At the same time, they are a very dangerous team going forward. It will require us to be the best version of ourselves. At the same time I think they know we are going to require them to be best version of themselves."
The other semi-final is San Diego Wave against OL Reign, a game that could see legends in the game in the final on either side. Alex Morgan hopes to take the top team in the league through and end Meagan Rapinoe's professional career in the process.