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Gotham FC makes it official with USWNT defender Kelley O’Hara

USWNT defender Kelley O'Hara has signed a multi-year deal with Gotham FC. (Joseph Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)

Kelley O’Hara has signed with NJ/NY Gotham FC.

If this news gives you sense of déjà vu, there’s good reason. The NWSL club announced the addition of the U.S. women’s national team defender back in November, but Gotham did not officially announce the deal until Wednesday.

O’Hara might have forced Gotham’s hand with a very public reveal back at the start of the NWSL’s first free-agency signing period.

“I’ve got a little news for New York tonight,” O’Hara said at an event hosted by the “Men in Blazers” podcast. Then she pulled on a Gotham FC sweatshirt to cheers from the crowd. Gotham FC posted about the reveal on their social media accounts and featured O’Hara’s photo prominently on their websites.

While her reveal made her the first player to join a new team in free agency, she was perhaps not the first free agent to sign a contract, if we read into the long wait for the official announcement.

Indeed, Gotham received a fine from the NWSL in November for prematurely announcing the signing of a player. While neither the club nor the NWSL provided details, O’Hara was the most likely culprit.

As a member of the USWNT, O’Hara has played in three World Cups, winning two. While she’s been dealing with a lingering hip injury, she is “very close” to returning, USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said earlier this month.

The 34-year-old defender played for Sky Blue FC, the franchise that would become Gotham, from 2013-17, but she was traded to the Utah Royals before the 2018 season and then to the Washington Spirit before the 2021 season.

After helping the Spirit to a league championship in 2021, now she returns to the franchise where she got her start in the NWSL.

“I’m beyond excited to enter the next chapter of my playing career with Gotham FC,” O’Hara said in a statement. “The team culture, the city, the people — there’s so much to look forward to with a team like this. I can’t wait to get started. I’m so excited to be back in NYC/NJ!”