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4 things about Washington Spirit’s win over Gotham FC

From a clean sheet to a new starter at CB, there’s a lot to discuss so let’s...

Kelley Piper / Black and Red United

The Washington Spirit have just completed a feat they hadn’t accomplished all season: go on a winning streak. Even more shocking, particularly given the chaos of the 4-3 versus San Diego, is that the 2-0 over Gotham was — I’m gonna say it, I’m gonna say it and you can’t stop me — somewhat comfortable?

We’re in a strange new world with the 2022 Spirit and we like this one much better. It may be too late for the playoffs, but not for our hearts. Let’s discuss:

So fresh and so clean (clean)

In the postmatch press conference, interim head coach noted that he was pleased with the win but was specifically pleased with the clean sheet, remarking that the Spirit hadn’t had one of those in a while. He was right, and seemed even more surprised to discover how right he was. The Spirit’s last clean sheet was a 0-0 draw with Orlando Pride on July 17th. July! 17th!

The match wasn’t completely dominated by Washington’s defense, in fact Gotham had the ball in the net at after a corner but a linesman made an instant and correct call indicating that the flight path carried it over the line before falling back into play. Overall, Gotham managed nine shots with three on target for 1.15xG according to American Soccer Analysis. While big chances weren’t completely cut out, Washington did enough to place themselves in position to score the second and decisive goal, another rarity this season.

Julia Roddar, CB???

Annie Elliott teased it in our things to look for preview and it turned out Montoya was being extremely serious, as it was indeed Julia Roddar who lined up beside Sam Staab in central defense. While Roddar’s versatility has seen her play in midfield and left back for the Spirit, central defense in a back four was a whole new thing.

Roddar did well. She racked up four ball recoveries, two interceptions, one clearance and won all three of her attempted tackles. Roddar also only misplaced four passes on the night. The renewed focus on relationships in defending helped spread the defensive load across the team, but Roddar’s performance shouldn’t go unnoticed. With Amber Brooks serving part two of her suspension midweek against Angel City, expect Roddar’s solid performance to earn her a second consecutive start at center back.

So you’re saying there’s a chance

In his initial press conference, interim head coach Albertin Montoya said that he originally turned down the offer to take the helm in Washington after Kris Ward’s dismissal. Mark Krikorian, Washington Spirit’s President of Soccer Operations, laid out the vision of an interim appointment and after Montoya received the blessing from his wife, decided to accept.

A little over two weeks on the job and Montoya is 2-0-0 in the NWSL, with wins over teams at both ends of the table. He’s seemingly enjoying his time with the group, never missing a chance to praise them technically and tactically, but also in their determination and ability to accept and apply new lessons and new direction.

Given all that, I had to ask if he’s perhaps considering turning this interim stint into a full-time appointment, here was his answer:

“I’d love to. this is a wonderful group of players, I’ve enjoyed every minute on the field, in the training sessions, it’s a lot of positive energy. What’s really made it special is how they’ve bought in, and you look for that. Coming in at the end of the season it might be difficult, but a lot of credit to them. Which makes it difficult for me to make that decision.

But ultimately Mark [Krikorian] knows that I could only come here for the last five games of the season. I have certain things back home that I just cannot leave, so it’s nice that the question’s being asked but right now I don’t see it going beyond these five games.

And my wife would actually answer that question. It’s not up to me, it’s actually not up to me to tell you the truth!” -Albertin Montoya

We win at home, you get a photo gallery. Thems the rules.

Home games mean our photographer Kelley Piper was there to snap the match as it happens. Because they say pictures are worth a thousand words, I’m gonna stop typing and let you enjoy the photos.