It’s the defending NWSL champions against the only team in the league with a perfect record through the early going.

It’s Gotham FC’s large contingent of United States women’s national team players against Vlatko Andonovski, their former skipper who has returned to the NWSL as the head coach of the Kansas City Current.

And it’s Eli Manning against Patrick Mahomes.

Yes, there’s bragging rights between the NFL quarterbacks on the line Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena in Gotham’s regular-season home opener (6 p.m., MSG) — Manning is an investor in Gotham; Mahomes and his wife, Brittany, are part-owners of the Current.

“Hey, Mahomes! You may have one more of these than me,” Manning said in a video he posted to social media this week, flashing his two Giants Super Bowl rings, “but do you have one of these? I don’t think so.”

Then he flashed the ring Gotham players will receive in a postgame ceremony to commemorate their 2023 title.

Ali Krieger, who retired after captaining that team to the trophy, will be on hand to celebrate.

“It’s important for us to know where we go, we need to know where we come from,” Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amoros said Friday. “We come from being the champions of this league, and that’s where we want to be next year [for] this season.”

Gotham’s campaign is off to a choppy start after an offseason of much turnover.

They split a pair of 1-0 decisions before last weekend’s international break, and injuries have prevented Amoros from fielding his star-studded, first-choice lineup (Rose Lavelle and Lynn Williams will remain sidelined Sunday).

It’s a reunion for those players — as well as Gotham free-agent additions Crystal Dunn, Tierna Davidson and Emily Sonnett — with Andonovski, who coached them with the USWNT from 2019 through the failed 2023 World Cup.

“I’m actually very happy for them,” Andonovski said Friday. “They’re in [a] good environment. I know that that environment is going to help them get better going forward, and I wish them success for every game that they play, except the one on Sunday.”

Compared to Gotham’s pair of low-scoring affairs, the Current (3-0-0) have been a fireworks show, with 11 goals scored (from nine players) and seven allowed.

“We know they’ve been very effective when it comes to attacking, and also they’ve been having some issues at the back, conceding a few goals,” Amoros said. “But they play obviously an offensive style, and so do we.”

Sunday’s match will be the first of nine matches this season to air locally on MSG Network. And it’s the first chance for Gotham, as Amoros put it, “to make sure the Red Bull Arena is a fortress this year” after going 4-3-4 at home a year ago en route to capturing hardware.

“One way or another, we’re gonna get that ring. It’s already won,” Amoros said. “We need to make sure that we receive it with a bigger smile on our faces, and that will come if we are able to be ourselves, to play our style and to beat Kansas City.”

2024 © Network Today. All Rights Reserved.