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Why Gotham FC’s World Cup addition is good news for the NWSL

Esther Gonzalez celebrates Spain's World Cup win. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images,)

A champion has arrived at Gotham FC.

On Thursday night, Gotham formally introduced Esther González, captain of the World Cup-winning Spain national team, as its newest addition at a Manhattan restaurant.

After a decorated career that has included stops at Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid, González’s arrival in the NWSL will represent a unique challenge.

“There are some leagues and some countries where I think players have been somewhat reluctant to come to this league,” Gotham general manager Yael Averbuch West told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “From the very beginning, we realized Esther has the personality necessary to come here and succeed. She’s up for an adventure and really intense in a way that — you can just tell when you talk to someone if they’re going to be up for this.”

González joins a Gotham (7-5-6, 27 points) team clinging to one of six playoff spots. The striker actually played her first game for the club Sept. 2 at North Carolina, but her first home game will be Saturday against the Washington Spirit.

Her arrival marks just the second time in NWSL history a reigning World Cup champion from a country other than the United States has joined a team. Spain’s victory has been overshadowed by scandal; Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Soccer Federation, resigned last week after uproar stemming from his unsolicited kiss of Jenni Hermoso during the team’s medal celebration.

González will look to add to her legacy in New York, after scoring 30 goals in 54 games for Real.

“The U.S. is a powerhouse, especially the national team, and as a team they were always the best and a reference for all of us, including me,” she said. “Now having the chance to play in this league, face those players that I’ve idolized — I never thought I’d make it.”