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With Superteam Signings, Gotham FC is Raising the Bar for the NWSL

Last Updated: March 19, 2024
After adding Crystal Dunn, Rose Lavelle & more to an NWSL championship-winning roster, NJ/NY Gotham FC is aiming to grow the game and women’s sports as a whole.

The season following a championship win is always pivotal for any club. They’re simultaneously chasing a winning feeling again while also ensuring they’ve got the roster to follow through. Who knows what 2024 will bring for NJ/NY Gotham FC when they return to action on Friday against the San Diego Wave, but the newest players representing the reigning champions certainly know they’re the talk of the NWSL.

“Everyone is so focused on us joining the team, But honestly, to be fair, we’re also on our individual journeys,” Crystal Dunn told Boardroom from Gotham’s Media Day in January.

Dunn was the first in a flurry of blockbuster signings Gotham completed during the offseason. What followed her addition was Tierna Davidson, Rose Lavelle, and Emily Sonnett, all members of the current United States Women’s National Team. They were already a threatening side thanks to the likes of Midge Purce and Lynn Williams, but now the four arrivals essentially solidify Gotham as the league’s most star-studded and menacing team.

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The New-look Gotham FC

One reason the four new players share equal excitement about joining Gotham FC goes far beyond championship potential. With a solid front office and an in-form roster, they all agreed that Gotham is truly setting itself up for long-term success.

When general manager Yael Averbuch West and head coach Juan Carlos Amorós approached Lavelle about taking her talents to the tri-state, Lavelle remembers the bulk of their conversation revolved around her personal growth. At 28, with multiple honors to her name within the league and as a part of the USWNT, finding a suitable home to further develop her craft was a non-negotiable.

Thankfully, she was able to find a home that will allow her to continue prospering. She’s thrilled at the prospect, especially since she gets to do it alongside Sonnett, her teammate with the OL Reign.

“I think there’s something special that’s really going to be happening here, and the more Yael spoke about the future and where she wants to take this organization, I could sense this shift within me,” Lavelle recalled. “It all aligned with the personal goals I set for myself, and the hunger of [the] free agency period was a bonus.”

For Davidson, it was the familiarity of the current lineup. Because the women’s soccer world is a close-knit community, she knew a lot of the players on the team, having previously come across them through her experiences from youth camps to the national team. Considering she was leaving the Chicago Red Stars for life on the East Coast, familiarity among her teammates was a comforting thought. Davidson also had high praise for the passion, intelligence, and preparation the coaching staff and front office exude on a daily basis.

“The organization as a whole has a clear vision of what success looks like and with that comes a step-by-step process of how they want to get there. That’s so exciting to me that it’s not just we want to make things better. It’s like, ‘OK, this is actually how we’re going to do it with clear steps to becoming the foremost team and set the standard for other people to try and catch up with us.'”

Gotham’s achievement in recruiting some of the best players in the game rightfully keeps them firmly in the contender discussion and maybe even puts the team at the top of some lists to repeat as champions. It also led to a new discourse in women’s soccer: the NWSL’s first superteam.

Gotham FC hopes to repeat as champions with a new-look roster. (Meg Oliphant / Getty Images)

As the first of the club’s major signings, Dunn acknowledged that Gotham has superteam potential, but it must be paired with other essential qualities in order to be successful.

“I’ve been playing this game long enough to know that you need the pieces, and you also need the chemistry,” Dunn said to Boardroom in December. “I think the NWSL is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, leagues to play in. Gotham has that firepower, but we’re not going to just beat you because of who’s on our team. We’re going to beat you with the style of play, the relentless attitude, and a winning mentality that we’re going to carry from the moment the game starts until it ends.”

Sonnett added: “I’ve never really viewed us as a superteam, but I think there is a lot of talent. So now what we have to figure out is how can all that talent get on the same page and make it work in the form of wins and goals scored. There are so many talented teams in the NWSL, but one thing that’s necessary to make it all work is whether we all have the same mentality while training and playing.”

Moving Forward with a New Media Deal

Last season, CBS Sports channels were the sole platform to watch your favorite NWSL team play. That all changed in November when the league announced a new four-year media rights deal that will partner the women’s domestic topflight football league with CBS Sports, ESPN, Prime Video, and Scripps Sports.

Reportedly valued at $240 million, the agreement is a massive increase from the three-year, $4.5 million contract previously in place with CBS. It’s a monumental feat for the league because, moving forward, 118 matches will be distributed across the aforementioned services.

“There’s never been more of an exciting time to be part of women’s sports. The buzz, interest, and value is here to stay and it’s just going to keep growing and getting better,” Lavelle said about the landmark deal, adding, “I think having better access to watching games is a positive for kids. They see their role models and say, ‘Oh, I want to do that one day.’ That’s going to have a long-lasting effect on them.”

“I’m excited to no longer answer texts from people asking, ‘Where is the game?'” Sonnett joked. “But in all seriousness, it’s nice to see visibility for both women’s sports and women’s soccer.”

Emily Sonnett and Rose Lavelle are no strangers to being teammates on the pitch. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

In a November 2023 report, Deloitte predicted that women’s professional sports could generate profit that surpasses $1 billion. Not only is that a 300% increase in valuation, but the first time it will reach that billion-dollar milestone.

There is an obvious throughline contributing to this forecast. For starters, NCAA women’s basketball teams like the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks and individuals like Caitlin Clark are attracting audiences in droves to watch their games in person and on television. That leads to record-breaking viewership numbers, and brands are naturally shelling out more money than ever to promote their products during live broadcasts. NIL deals are another factor, and currently, more women in the college space have inked sneaker contracts than their male counterparts.

At the pro level, the Las Vegas Aces became the first team in WNBA history to completely sell out of its regular season ticket passes. Meanwhile, following the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, jersey sales for Australia (co-hosted with New Zealand) increased by 19%, and Code Sports estimates the economic benefit totaled $1.32 billion.

The math is mathing when it comes to advancing women’s sports, which makes this upcoming season a monumental one for NJ/NY Gotham FC and the NWSL as a whole. Excitement for the game has always been there; now, more people are paying attention.

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Vinciane Ngomsi

Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today, and most recently Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University, and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.

About The Author
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today, and most recently Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University, and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.