The former NWSL champions made their first joint appearance with NJ/NY Gotham FC alongside the rookie Tuesday morning in New York City. Here’s what we saw.
Kelley O’Hara is back to finish what she started in New York. The decorated footballer kicked off NWSL free agency in November by announcing during a live show hosted by NBC Sports’ “Men in Blazers” that she was making her triumphant return to the northeast. A former member of the club once known as Sky Blue FC, the star fullback’s new deal with NJ/NY Gotham FC runs through the end of the 2024 NWSL campaign.
On Tuesday, from Gotham’s official announcement event at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan, O’Hara spoke to Boardroom for the first time since joining the club about the excitement of returning to the city she called home from 2013-2017.
“It feels good to be back, you know?” the Georgia native said. “I’m like, ‘Wow, I was here for so long and this really felt like home.’ So it’s a good internal feeling being back here.”
The 2022 season wasn’t the one Gotham FC had hoped for, as they finished last in the league with a 4-1-17 record. With hearts set on returning to championship glory here and now, it’s only right that they enlisted the help of a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist.
“I always felt like New York City, New Jersey deserve a championship team, and the team deserves a city that’s behind them and excited and energized,” the former Stanford Cardinal added. “So, I’m looking forward to helping in that aspect, elevating the standard on the field and hopefully bringing a championship to this club because like I said, I think New York City deserves that winning mentality in another league.”
O’Hara wasn’t the only other offseason move Gotham FC made ahead of the 2023 campaign, however. Fellow USWNT star Lynn Williams was acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Current shortly before January’s draft.
It was admittedly a “shock” for the three-time NWSL champ and former league MVP, but the forward is nonetheless thrilled to be playing alongside such an enduringly respected figure in women’s soccer in O’Hara.
“We’re coming to this club with a lot of experience,” the California native told Boardroom. “We both know the mentality it takes to win championships, and I hope that we can help instill that in this team. I also think we both recognize the season Gotham had last year was below anybody’s standard — [I’m] not saying the culture is bad, just for some reason it didn’t click. It’s nobody’s fault, it just happened. So hopefully this year we can all get on the same page. The upper hand in having been playing for a while is that you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Good things are coming to Gotham FC.”
Also joining Williams and O’Hara in the unveiling ceremony was newly drafted forward Jenna Nighswonger. The team’s No. 4 overall draft pick out of Florida State University, Nighswonger was named a finalist for best college soccer player of the year (MAC Hermann Trophy) after leading the Seminoles to three straight College Cup appearances — soccer’s Final Four — and ranks second all-time in FSU’s record books with 34 career assists.
The NWSL’s 11th season kicks off on Saturday, March 25. That’s nearly a month earlier than the 2022 start date of April 29 — don’t miss it!
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