She’s got a new contract extension. She’s officially playing in another World Cup in July. Catching up with Lynn Williams is a feat — somehow, we did it.
June is proving to be a rather significant month for Lynn Williams. Five months into her stint as a forward for NWSL club NJ/NY Gotham FC, the California native signed a three-year contract extension with the club on Tuesday, keeping her on the east coast through the 2025 campaign.
In true Big Apple fashion, the ceremony was conducted from the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
Less than 24 hours after that news, Williams officially earned her spot on the US Women’s National Team roster for next month’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Joining her Down Under in their quest to bring an unprecedented third consecutive trophy and fifth in federation history are fellow Gotham teammates Kelley O’Hara and Kristie Mewis.
Moments after news of Williams’ new deal broke, the 30-year-old spoke exclusively with Boardroom about her time with the NWSL franchise so far, the excitement of representing the US in her second major tournament and first World Cup, and her continued commitment to social justice.
VINCIANE NGOMSI: When we first connected in January, you had just arrived in New York from Kansas City. Now that you’re officially signed for multiple years, how do you describe your emotions at the moment?
LYNN WILLIAMS: Overwhelming, but in the best possible way. I feel like it’s champagne problems. I don’t know how many people say they sign contracts or literally do anything from the top of the Empire State Building, so I feel truly blessed to be able to do it there — but I also feel incredibly grateful Gotham sees so much in me and wants me to be on for the next several years.
VN: You’ve been in top form this season with six goals to your name in 12 matches. Do you feel the added pressure to continue performing at that level given the club’s latest investment in you?
LW: I don’t necessarily feel the pressure. As a veteran player, I feel like it is my responsibility to lead by example, and I feel like no matter what team I am on, I put my best foot forward and give it my all. So, it’s very nice to see it paying off.
I said this in another interview — I feel like I’ve been doing this for years, but it’s just now being recognized and being noticed. I’m very lucky to be able to be the one scoring goals, but I don’t get the goals if the whole team doesn’t put in the effort. There have been many moments where we have just stuck in the game and fought and fought, and that’s because of our defensive pressure and excellence, so I don’t get a lot of the opportunities that I have right now if it isn’t for the collective team. I just feel very lucky that my hard work is paying off and I’m able to put the ball in the back of the net.
VN: For the first time ever, Gotham exceeded 10,000 tickets sold for a home game at Red Bull Arena earlier this month. What was your reaction walking onto the pitch for the first time to a packed crowd and an even louder supporters section?
LW: It feels incredible. We put in so much work day in and day out to hone our craft, and to be recognized not only by media outlets but also fans means the world to us. We will play whether there’s a single person in the stand, but it’s an incredible feeling to be recognized and to play in front of your home state and know they’re backing you. I think that it’s just all of the incredible effort and hard work that our front office staff puts in to get people in those seats.
I think this year marks a new Gotham. We are laying the foundation for the future and hopefully, it’s just the beginning of opening up the upper deck and we can see more and more people coming every single week. But part of that is also us winning games and performing as well. So, it’s twofold, but it was an incredible feeling and I hope for a similar turnout at the next game on the 25th.
VN: Let’s pivot to this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. You’ve represented the USWNT before and have an Olympic bronze medal, so you can talk about the joy you have in representing your home country whether it be on international soil or stateside, but this would be your first appearance on the biggest international stage in the game.
LW: I think anytime you get to put on the crest and play for your nation is an incredible honor, and it comes with a responsibility and duty to carry the crest, so it means the world. It’s a different feeling when the national anthem is playing when you are wearing your club jersey versus when you’re wearing the actual crest.
I never take it for granted anytime I get to put on that jersey. My fiancé is Australian, so my extended family is there. Australia just holds a special place in my heart in general, and then obviously being able to play down there — I’ve played in Sydney before, it’s just an incredible country. I haven’t spent as much time in New Zealand, but I was there with the national team in January and they have a beautiful culture as well. So, I think that they are gonna put on an amazing World Cup and grow their soccer viewership tenfold. That’s what the world needs.
It’s going to be an amazing event and I just can’t wait to see what transpires.
VN: The NWSL and Gotham FC make a point to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday. As a Black player, can you describe your delight in playing for a club that takes time to recognize these key moments of history, including Pride Month? What does this recognition mean for little Black girls hoping one day to play top-level football?
LW: When you look at soccer as a whole, it should look exactly like the United States, which is different sexual orientations, different races, different backgrounds, different everything. So, when you look at New York and New Jersey, that’s exactly what you have here. It’s basically an international hub of just beautifulness.
I believe we have the most Black players in the league on our team, but not just that; we have several members of the LGBT community on our team as well. We have Hispanic people, we have international players. So, to be celebrated and to be able to see yourself on television as a young girl is I think where dreams start.
When I was growing up, I didn’t really get to see as many Black women playing soccer. I saw Brianna Scurry and as I got older, Sydney Leroux, but we’re very similar in age. So, for little young Black girls or however you identify, to see yourself in the sport, I always say if you can see it, you can believe it. If you believe it, you can do it. It’s really just an incredible moment for our club and it’s awesome to be in a place where Gotham recognizes and then honors that.
2023 USWNT World Cup Games (Group E)
- July 21 vs. Vietnam, 9:00 p.m. ET
- July 26 vs. Netherlands, 9 p.m. ET
- Aug. 1 vs. Portugal, 3 a.m. ET
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