The Gotham FC front office was busy this winter.
Through blockbuster trades, key signings in the first-ever National Women’s Soccer League free agency period, and appointing a new Head Coach, Gotham have committed to a rebuild intended to lift itself from the bottom of the 2022 NWSL table to a challenge for this year’s championship.
Juan Carlos Amorós takes over a side that introduced nine new faces and dismissed 10 since October. Highlighted by the additions of USWNT forward Lynn Williams and veteran midfielder Kelley O’Hara, Gotham wasted no time addressing the biggest holes in its roster.
These moves look great on paper, but Gotham felt it was in a similar situation this time last year. The club finished with just 13 points in 22 games in 2022 for various reasons, but it was most notably due to the lack of cohesion within its talented roster. Amorós will try to succeed where former head coach Scott Parkinson and interim head coach Hue Menzies failed in building on-the-field chemistry, although he has some proven reinforcements to work with.
What follows is a rundown of Gotham’s preparation for the 2023 season.
Kristen Edmonds – signed as a free agent through 2024
Svava Rós Guðmundsdóttir – signed from SK Brann through 2025
Iliana Hocking – selected in the 2023 NWSL Draft
Nealy Martin – acquired through waivers from Racing Louisville, signed to a one-year contract with 2024 option
Jenna Nighswonger – selected in the 2023 NWSL Draft
Kelley O’Hara – signed as a free agent through 2024
Abby Smith – signed as a free agent through 2025
Lynn Williams – acquired via trade with Kansas City Current
Yazmeen Ryan – acquired via a three-team trade
Nicole Baxter – contract not renewed
Jenna Bike – contract not renewed
Jennifer Cudjoe – contract not renewed
Ashlyn Harris – retired
Estelle Johnson – signed with North Carolina Courage as a free agent
Kelly Ann Livingstone – waived
Paige Monaghan – traded to Racing Louisville
Domi Richardson – option not exercised
Cameron Tucker – waived
Kumi Yokoyama – contract not renewed
2. Key Acquisitions
In likely the biggest trade of the NWSL off-season, Gotham FC acquired 29-year-old forward Lynn Williams from the Kansas City Current in exchange for the second overall pick in the 2023 NWSL draft. The three-time NWSL winner is returning to club soccer with a new team after a torn right hamstring suffered in her first and only appearance for Kansas City kept her out for the rest of 2022.
Not only is Williams back to fitness, but back on the scoresheet already as well; She tallied her 14th goal for the USWNT in the first of its two friendlies against New Zealand in January, perfectly heading Trinity Rodman’s cross into the back of the net.
William’s addition addresses the biggest problem the Goths came up against last year: Scoring goals. They only knocked in 16 in 22 games and without a reliable target, its top goalscorer was a three-way tie with just three goals a piece, a mark Williams has passed in each of her six NWSL seasons. Williams is not only quick and smart off the ball, but her fearlessness going for goal in the air makes her a great target for Gotham playmakers.
The first-ever free agency signing in NWSL history was a massive one.
Gotham added another proven winner to its roster in Kelley O’Hara, locking down the 34-year-old to a two-year contract. O’Hara returns to Red Bull Arena after leaving then-named Sky Blue FC in 2017, having won an NWSL championship and a second World Cup in the meantime.
You should expect O’Hara to line up on the right side of the defense, which complicates things for 20-year-old Bruninha, who joined in August. Gotham’s backline might not be fully tidied up from the one that conceded 46 goals last season, but the addition of Kelley O’Hara is an unquestionable step in the right direction.
The addition of Abby Smith adds complication to an already cloudy situation between the posts.
Michelle Betos replaced Ashlyn Harris in goal after her season was cut short with a right knee injury. With Harris now retired and Smith brought in, it’s hard to put a finger on who’s the expected number one.
Smith joins Gotham as a free agent after spending the last three seasons as the second-choice with the Portland Thorns and Kansas City Current. The 29-year-old shot-stopper has held the starting role with former clubs Boston Breakers and Utah Royals, and made nine appearances on loan with Western Sydney Wanderers.
3. Preseason Look
Escaping the home stretch of the northeast winter, Gotham FC traveled last week to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida for its preseason camp.
“The club has done a fantastic job and a lot of people behind the scenes to make sure that we can get that preparation going in the best way possible,” said Amorós. “When we came as a club and as a coaching team, we wanted to take care of every detail and coming to a facility like this, we can be fully focused on the task ahead. We have everything that we need from really fantastic pitches, gyms, analysis, food. We can take care of every detail for the players to be as ready as possible for the start of preseason”
The IMG Academy is a common destination for soccer preseasons because of its favorable climate and world-class facilities. It hosted Major League Soccer sides Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls earlier this year, as well as the Kansas City Current and Washington Spirit in 2022.
“We’ve been training all on our own the last few months and it’s finally nice to get out here and kind of have a goal in mind,” said Ali Kreiger after the team’s first training session in Florida. “It’s going to be a new year, a fresh start and we’re all so excited to just absolutely dominate.”
“Obviously we’ve got a mix of a bit more senior players with some younger ones,” Amorós said of his squad. “To see the connection, that’s something you’re looking for in these first few days. Setting up the style of play that we want to have but also the standards between us how we want to work with each other.”
The announced 29-player squad (which included non-roster invitee Sinead Farrelly) for Gotham’s preseason training camp will be in camp until March 3. In the three-week span, the Goths will begin to take shape with friendly games against the Orlando Pride on February 18, Florida State University on Feb. 25 and the Chicago Red Stars on March 2.
Gotham will return to New Jersey on March 3 in preparation for the NWSL season opener later in the month. They’ll open things up at the newly renamed BMO Stadium in Los Angeles against Angel City FC on March 26 at 9 pm EST. Gotham fans will have to wait until April 1 for their first trip to Red Bull Arena of the year, when OL Reign visit at 7:30 pm ET.