Gotham FC made history on Saturday night, winning their first-ever NWSL Championship with a 2-1 victory over OL Reign at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego. The match was a fitting finale for the careers of USWNT legends Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger, who played their last professional games for OL Reign and Gotham FC respectively.
The game started with a shock for OL Reign, as Rapinoe had to be substituted in the 12th minute after suffering an injury. The Reign struggled to create chances without their star forward, while Gotham FC looked dangerous on the counter-attack. In the 28th minute, Gotham FC took the lead through a brilliant goal by Lynn Williams, who received a pass from Midge Purce and sent a shot into the top corner from outside the box.
OL Reign tried to respond in the second half, but Gotham FC’s defense, led by Krieger, was solid and organized. The Reign’s best chance came in the 67th minute, when Jess Fishlock unleashed a powerful shot from distance, but Gotham FC goalkeeper Mandy Haught made a spectacular save to tip the ball over the bar.
The final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation and emotion for Gotham FC, who lifted the trophy for the first time in their history. Krieger, who captained the team, was in tears as she hugged her teammates and thanked the fans. She said that winning the title was the perfect way to end her career, and that she was proud of her team’s performance.
For OL Reign, it was a heartbreaking end to their season, and to the careers of Rapinoe and Krieger’s USWNT teammate, Allie Long, who also announced her retirement after the game. Rapinoe, who watched the game from the bench, said that she was disappointed with the result, but proud of her team’s effort.
The NWSL Championship was the culmination of a thrilling and competitive season, which saw 12 teams battle for the title. Gotham FC, who finished sixth in the regular season, defied the odds and beat the top two seeds, Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage, on their way to the final. OL Reign, who finished fourth, also had an impressive run, beating Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC in the playoffs.
The final also marked the end of an era for the USWNT, as Rapinoe, Krieger, and Long joined Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn in retiring from the game. The five players were part of the USWNT’s golden generation, winning two World Cups and four Olympic medals. They also left their mark on the NWSL, playing for various clubs and inspiring a generation of fans and players.
The NWSL will look forward to a new season in 2024, with new teams, new players, and new challenges. The league will also have a new broadcast deal, worth $60 million per year, with CBS, ESPN, Amazon Prime, and Scripps. The deal will give the league more exposure and revenue, and help it grow and improve.
The NWSL has come a long way since its inception in 2013, and the 2023 season was one of its best yet. The league showcased the talent, passion, and drama of women’s soccer, and gave the fans a memorable and exciting championship game. Gotham FC and OL Reign put on a show for the ages, and Gotham FC deservedly claimed their first NWSL title.
The Sport Lady has been a lifelong sports enthusiast. She believes that sports have the power to unite people, create common bonds, and foster shared experiences. As a wife and mother of sports lovers, she is passionate about her favorite teams and cherishes every opportunity to watch them play. For her, every day is game day!