As we roll into the middle of July, attention is now, of course, building on the impending 2023 Women’s World Cup, which opens up in just a matter of days.
With over 60 NWSL players scheduled to play in the top-flight international tournament, what will actually happen to the NWSL and its schedule for the next month?
Don’t worry; professional women’s soccer will still be in the United States in the coming weeks. Gotham FC is ready for the continued competition by making roster moves before the World Cup.
Where does Gotham FC stand at the mid-season point?
While it may not technically be the actual mid-season point, the play slowdown in the NWSL scheduled matches will allow the teams to continue to play on a more limited basis while many top NWSL players are representing their respective nations in the World Cup. Gotham FC has, by all accounts, turned their fortunes around from last season and currently sits with a 7-4-4 record and 25 points which puts this squad soundly in third place in the NWSL.
In addition, Gotham FC can start to really think about a postseason spot if they continue to hold their own or improve on their record. It should be noted that Gotham FC could only muster a total of four wins during the entire 2022 NWSL season, so the improvement in this squad truly is tangible this season.
For the next month, the NWSL will not go on a World Cup hiatus but will focus more on continued play for the 2023 Challenge Cup with upcoming matches over the next few weeks. By focusing more on Challenge Cup play, NWSL teams can still keep playing despite roster depletions due to the Women’s World Cup. At the same time, Challenge Cup matches do not affect overall NWSL standings, including playoff contention. Gotham FC currently has a 2-1-1 record in Challenge Cup play and holds second place in the East Division.
Gotham FC makes roster moves before the World Cup.
Although the focus right now for many soccer fans is on the Women’s World Cup, the NWSL is still in business, and each franchise is trying to find ways to win matches. Gotham FC has been searching to make roster moves to help bolster the loss of six players to World Cup teams.
One of the unique features of the sport of professional soccer is the ability for teams to loan out players to other teams in different leagues (imagine Patrick Mahomes being loaned out to a Canadian Football League team.)
Gotham FC picked up veteran Katie Stengel on loan from Liverpool through the early part of September, when she will return to England in anticipation of the upcoming campaign. Stengel certainly is no stranger to the NWSL, having played in Washington, Boston, Utah, and most recently, the Houston Dash, where she helped them win the 2020 Challenge Cup.
Last season, Stengel had ten goals in 26 match appearances for Liverpool, and Gotham FC hopes she can bring that offensive firepower with her to help bolster the attacking third over the next two months.
In addition, Gotham FC went out and found a veteran gem by signing Spanish midfielder Maitane Lopez to a two-year contract with an additional option year. Lopez plays for Atletico Madrid Feminas in the top Spanish Liga F and brings eleven seasons of experience to Gotham FC.
One of Lopez’s immediate challenges will be transitioning from the more technical style of Spanish and European play to American soccer’s sheer physicality and speed.
The signing of both players signals a willingness on the part of Gotham FC and other NWSL squads to expand the international market for women’s professional soccer in the United States as the NWSL looks to challenge the top European women’s leagues for dominance.
In the immediate term, Gotham FC picks up two solid veteran players who are used to success in the European leagues, and their presence can only help bolster the depleted player roster as a result of the World Cup.