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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Miscik

"We want this type of attention": Gotham FC's Superteam Ambitions

Updated: Jan 20

“Superteam.” The term, originally coming from basketball, refers to a team made up of star players. When 2023 NWSL Champions Gotham FC added four World Cup-winning players to their roster this offseason, the word “superteam” began to be used by commentators and journalists alike to describe the new-look Bats.

Over the span of four days at the end of 2023, Gotham signed free agents Crystal Dunn, Tierna Davidson, Rose Lavelle, and Emily Sonnett. Between the four players, there are five NWSL Championships, six SheBelieves Cups, one Olympic bronze medal, and one World Cup. 

Head Coach Juan Carlos Amorós, Rose Lavelle, Emily Sonnett, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, and GM Yael Averbuch. Photo by @GothamFC /Twitter

This caliber of signings would have been unthinkable for Gotham entering the 2023 season. They ended the 2022 season in last place. However, with a new coach in Juan Carlos Amorós and some ambitious moves at the 2023 NWSL Draft, things began to look up for them.

The Bats built some momentum as the season went on, and with key summer signings like Spain international and World Cup winner Esther González, they looked like an entirely new team. Gotham rode this momentum through to the playoffs, eventually winning 2-1 over OL Reign in the Championship match.

However, some crucial, Championship-winning players departed the club in the offseason. Most notable out of this group are captain and center-back Ali Krieger and midfielder Kristie Mewis, two of the team’s biggest stars. Gotham had massive shoes to fill.

In terms of star power, Gotham’s new players are like-for-like. New signing Davidson will look to replace Krieger at center back, while Mewis’ position in the midfield will likely be covered by Lavelle. 

When asked at a January 19th press conference about the “superteam” label, Gotham General Manager Yael Averbuch West responded:

“[w]e want this type of attention… we want that target on our back.”

The attention that comes with being a superteam is both a blessing and a curse. Two recent examples of “superteams” in women’s sports demonstrate how difficult it is to live up to expectations.

Coming into the 2023 NWSL season, fans and journalists alike were convinced that the Kansas City Current had only strengthened their squad that got them to the 2022 Championship. With the additions of World Cup winner Morgan Gautrat, veteran midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, and two-time NWSL Champion Debinha, the Current looked unstoppable.

This feeling, however, was short-lived. Many key players got severely injured early in the season, including defenders Elizabeth Ball and Alex Loera. The Current was forced to rely on their bench, including many rookie players, for much of the season. Despite a solid run in the Challenge Cup, the Kansas City defense leaked goals in the regular season. They ended the season in 11th place out of 12 teams.

Gotham’s fellow New York team, the New York Liberty of the WNBA, were much more successful than the Current as a “superteam.” They acquired league assist leader Courtney Vandersloot and former league MVPs Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart to play alongside talented youngster Sabrina Ionescu. The Liberty won their first ever trophy with this team, defeating rivals Las Vegas Aces to secure the 2023 Commissioner's Cup.

The Liberty began to crack under pressure despite their initial success. The influx of new players meant that group cohesion was difficult to maintain. While all the players were individually at the top of their games, many criticized the Liberty for not playing as a team well. Compare this dynamic to the Las Vegas Aces, known for their stylistic cohesion. Talent got the Liberty to the Championship series, but ultimately the Aces’ team play gave them the title. 

New Gotham midfielder Rose Lavelle balked at the term “superteam” being used to describe the group before the season even started: “...nothing’s given, everything’s earned. I know people are saying ‘it’s a superteam,’ but we still have to show up and put in the work and put the product on the field.”

Given the recent history of alleged superteams in women’s sports, Lavelle is right to question the term’s validity in the preseason. Will Gotham live up to its superteam title and win back-to-back Championships? Or will they join the pantheon of teams that cracked under the pressure of their own star power? Only time will tell. One thing’s for sure: Gotham’s new signings are excited to get started.


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