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Kelley O’Hara signs with Gotham FC in NWSL free agency splash

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

Kelley O’Hara made a splash to open the NWSL’s first free-agency signing period.

The U.S. women’s national team defender has signed a multi-year deal with Gotham FC, she announced Tuesday night at an event hosted by the “Men in Blazers” podcast.

“I’ve got a little news for New York tonight,” O’Hara said, then pulled on a Gotham FC sweatshirt to cheers from the crowd.

The 34-year-old becomes the first NWSL player to sign with a new team in free agency. The league established free agency with its new collective bargaining agreement, ratified in February, and Tuesday marked the first day free agents could sign with new teams.

O’Hara 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.

“I’m so excited to be back in New York City, with these people, with this team,” O’Hara said. “Yeah, I’m back, baby.”

She helped the Spirit to an NWSL title during a roller coaster of a 2021 season, but she played just seven regular-season matches for the team in 2022 due to a combination of USWNT duties and a lingering hip injury.

As a member of the USWNT, she has played in three World Cups, winning two. At the 2019 World Cup, she appeared in five of the seven matches for the U.S., including all knockout stage matches.