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Gotham FC Win Their First Ever NWSL Championship

Gotham FC clinched the title in Women’s National League (NWSL) in front of a record crowd at Snapdragon Stadium by defeating OL Reign 2-1 in San Diego. Ester Gonzalez scored the Championship winning goal, marking the first trophy for the team led by Juan Carlos Amoros.

Gotham opened the scoring in the 24th minute when Lynn Williams controlled a cross from Midge Purce and put a shot just outside of the 6 yard box past OL Reign goalkeeper Claudia Dickey.


Reign tied the score when Rose Lavelle raced past the Gotham defense to control a through ball from Bethany Balcer, who came on to replace Megan Rapinoe, at the top of the penalty area and put a shot from about 13 yards past Mandy Haught in the 29th minute.


Ester Gonzalez headed in a cross from Purce for the tie-breaking goal tow minutes into stoppage time in the first half. She was also a member of the Spain team that won the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.


Gotham played with 10 players about 45 seconds at the end of the match after goalkeeper Haught received a straight red card after a VAR review determined she handled the ball outside the penalty area, denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. They had already made the maximum three substitutes and were forced to put a field player in goal, midfielder Nealy Martin.

Gotham led 9-7 in shots in front of a crowd announced as 25,011, the most among the 10 NWSL Championship matches. The previous record was 21,144 for the 2018 Championships at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon.


Gotham opened the playoffs with a 2-0 quarter-final victory over the North Carolina Courage on Oct 22. Gotham the played Portland Thorns FC in the semi-final which they won 1-0 in extra time after a strike outside the area from substitute Katie Stengel.


Reign finished fourth in the regular season with a 9-8-5 record, they defeated fifth-placed Angel City FC 1-0 in a quarter-final match on Oct 20, they then played the regular season Champion San Diego Wave in the semi-final which they won 1-0 with Veronica Latsko scoring both goals.


The Championship was the last ever match for Reign forward Rapinoe, the longtime U.S. national team star. Rapinoe fell to the turf in the third minute as she was running towards the Gotham players trying to clear the ball just outside the penalty area. 

It was also the final match for Gotham defender and captain Ali Krieger, a teammate of Rapinoe in the U.S. 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship teams. Krieger led a team that finished bottom of the league last season to Champions this season and lifted the trophy to the delight of fans, allowing her club to proudly display it’s first-ever cup in the trophy cabinet.

The most valuable player (MVP) of the final was awarded to Midge Purce who orchestrated her team’s play and was instrumental in the tactical construction of Gotham FC with two assist passes.

Another important player in the Championship throughout a strenuous season was Lynn Williams, who totalled 8 goals making her the top scorer for the new NWSL Champion team.


Gotham FC’s Jenna Nighswonger was named the 2023 NWSL Rookie of the Year. She made a position switch from a midfielder to a defender and played alongside Krieger who also helped her adjust to the new role. Nighswonger’s efforts led her to a place on the NWSL’s best XI second team. She was also the only rookie among the 22 players on the Best XI first and second teams.

Juan Carlos Amoros was also named the 2023 NWSL Coach of the Year after engineering a stunning turnaround for Gotham FC. He led the team from last in the league in 2022 to the NWSL Championship Title in 2023.

Congratulations to both Krieger and Rapinoe on such incredible careers with both clubs and country, both have been an inspiration to people in their own ways, wishing you both all the best in your retirement and can’t wait to see what you both do next.



By Phillipa Kipling

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