USWNT star Carli Lloyd returns to soccer as Gotham FC co-owner

·4-min read

Carli Lloyd is joining the soccer ownership ranks less than six months after ending her storied career and as more retired players enter front offices around the league.

Lloyd, a New Jersey native, is now a minority owner of NJ/NY Gotham FC, the club announced on Wednesday. The forward was traded there in 2018 and closed her career with a final 107th cap in November.

“As my home club, Gotham FC has always been close to my heart,” Lloyd said in a team release. “It’s an honor to begin this new chapter of my soccer career surrounded by people who are committed to making this the best club and league in the world."

Lloyd joins majority owners Tammy Murphy, who serves as the club's chair, and Phil Murphy. The group also consists of minority owners Ed Nalbandian, Kristin Bernert and Karen Bryant. Lloyd will work as a consultant and advisor "to help boost the club’s profile in local, national, and international markets" and will work on initiatives "designed to promote the club and support its players," the team said.

“When Carli retired last season, we always envisioned her remaining a part of Gotham FC and we are thrilled to make that vision a reality,” Tammy Murphy said in a team release. “Her unique perspective as a former player and world champion will be a tremendous asset as we continue to push this club forward.”

Lloyd played three seasons with the club, which was previously known as Sky Blue FC, after stints with the Houston Dash and defunct Western New York Flash. She's also played for Manchester City in 2017. With the USWNT she was a two-time World Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time FIFA Player of the Year.

HARRISON, NJ - OCTOBER 31: Carli Lloyd #10 of NJ/NY Gotham FC waves to fans as she is recognized in a special farewell ceremony after the match against Racing Louisville FC at Red Bull Arena on October 31, 2021 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)
HARRISON, NJ - OCTOBER 31: Carli Lloyd #10 of NJ/NY Gotham FC waves to fans as she is recognized in a special farewell ceremony after the match against Racing Louisville FC at Red Bull Arena on October 31, 2021 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)

NWSL at a turning point

The news comes a day after the Dash announced the suspension of head coach and general manager James Clarkson amid an investigation into complaints of discrimination. The findings are from a joint NWSL and NWSLPA investigation launched last year. He is the latest of a handful of coaches who have left under similar circumstances.

It is a continuation of the systemic issues that beset the league in 2021 when revelations of abuse and harassment by coaches forced a reckoning within the league, its players and fans. Players stopped matches in October and linked arms in protest while the NWSL Players Association issued a statement and demands for change.

There was a clear disconnect between NWSL leadership and players that could begin to change with retired players in the front office giving their perspective. The ownership model within the NWSL is also evolving from what men's leagues have long offered and with more women involved.

Former players in ownership

Angel City FC is under a star-studded ownership squad that includes Serena Williams (and her daughter, Olympia), Candace Parker (and her daughter, Lailaa), Lindsey Vonn, Jennifer Garner and Natalie Portman. Former USWNT stars Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach are also on the ownership roster.

“People don’t understand when you give a woman an opportunity, the trickle-down effect is real,” Wambach told Yahoo Sports last year. “So what they [Angel City FC founders] have found out is by offering these ownership shares to the very women who helped build women’s soccer in this country, they have recruited the strongest team that they possibly could recruit.

“What happens is when you give a woman an opportunity like that, all she wants to do is spend the rest of her life trying to pay you back. And that’s all we’re trying to do.”

Other clubs have also bolstered their ownership ranks with people who want to invest and grow women's sports. Brittany Mahomes, a former player and wife of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, is a co-owner of the Kansas City Current. And Y. Michele Kang officially purchased the reigning champion Washington Spirit for a reported $35 million in February to end a months-long ownership saga.

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