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Kelley O’Hara knew Gotham FC could reach NWSL final ‘from first day’

Kelley O'Hara joined Gotham FC ahead of the 2023 season as a splashy free agent signing. (Ira L. Black/Getty Images)

Kelley O’Hara joined Gotham FC as a splashy free agent signing ahead of the 2023 season. And from the very first day of practice, the U.S. women’s national team defender knew the club had championship potential.

On Just Women’s Sports’ Super Show at the NWSL Championship, O’Hara recalled the first day the team came together. First-year head coach Juan Carlos Amorós laid out his vision for the season, and O’Hara felt a spark.

“I was like, wow, this is the first time I’ve sat in a room the first day of season and been like, we could we could win a championship,” O’Hara told co-hosts Christine Williamson and Sarah Gorden.

While Gotham snuck into the postseason as the No. 6 seed, they have won both of their playoff games — the first two playoff wins in franchise history — to reach the NWSL Championship final at 8 p.m. ET Saturday against OL Reign.

Gotham midfielder Allie Long also felt the potential of the team from the start of the season.

“The group that we have is really special,” Long said. “And so I’ve always had this feeling that — of course, you set that goal, and it’s such a competitive league — but yeah, we set that goal. I haven’t taken my eyes off (it).”

The team carries some extra incentive into the championship match, as they are looking to send retiring captain Ali Krieger out with a bang.

“We want to send her out the right way,” O’Hara said.

The Reign are looking to do the same for retiring star Megan Rapinoe. Neither Krieger nor Rapinoe — and neither Gotham FC nor OL Reign — have won a title. And while O’Hara can’t root for Rapinoe, she is glad to see Krieger and Rapinoe end their career on such a fitting stage.

“It’s so good. You can’t write a better script in sports,” O’Hara said. “It’s very, very cool, and they both deserve to have the opportunity to potentially win a championship.”