On October 26, football legend Carli Lloyd made a promise.
She told a crowd of 18,115 at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minnesota – where she played one final time for the US women’s national team – that despite her retirement, she wouldn’t stray far from the beautiful game.
“You won’t see me on the field, but you best believe I’ll be around to help this game grow,” she said. before dropping her microphone onto the pitchto the cheers of thousands.
Six months later, the world sees what it looks like to deliver on that promise.
The former Gotham FC standout was announced on Wednesday as the New Jersey-based franchise’s newest minority owner, barely six months after retiring from the game. The news comes as the business side of the franchise has grown exponentially. Lloyd also joins a growing ownership group that includes New Jersey’s first married couple, Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy.
“As my home club, Gotham FC has always been close to my heart,” Lloyd said in a statement. “It’s an honor to start this new chapter of my football career surrounded by people who are committed to making this the best club and league in the world.”
In this role, Lloyd will act as an advisor to Gotham to help raise the club’s profile in local, national and international markets, the team said. She will also work with other owners and club leadership on initiatives to promote the club and support its players.
Carli Lloyd says goodbye:goal, the only thing in Carli Lloyd’s last game against USWNT | lack opinion
‘I hated it’:Carli Lloyd talks about the culture of the US women’s national team
Gotham’s business side is on an uptrend.
In January, the franchise appointed veteran sports manager Andrea Pagnanelli as the club’s chief business officer. Two months later, the team announced Kristin Bernert and Karen Bryant as new minority owners, completing a women-led front office. Other owners are Ed Nalbandian and Steven Temares.
“When Carli retired last season, we always envisioned her remaining a part of Gotham FC and we’re thrilled to make that vision a reality,” said Tammy Murphy, the club’s Chairwoman. “Her unique perspective as a former player and world champion will be a tremendous asset as we continue to push this club forward.”
By joining Gotham’s ownership group, Lloyd becomes another example of a growing trend, with former athletes jumping into high-profile leadership positions in the professional sports world to help advance the games they once played.
At Gotham, Lloyd joins former teammate and current CEO Yael Averbuch West in the front office. Averbuch West was the team’s first-ever draft pick and also hails from Montclair, New Jersey. The two consider the franchise their home club.
Born in Delran, Lloyd is a fixture of New Jersey football.
She joined Gotham FC in 2018 when the team was still Sky Blue FC and played with the team for three seasons before retiring last year. On the field, she played more than 100 games in the National Women’s Soccer League during the regular season and played 316 games for the US women’s national team.
She is a two-time world champion, two-time Olympic champion and two-time FIFA player of the year. She officially ended her career with Gotham FC in November when the team lost 1-0 to the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL Quarterfinals last year in the NWSL’s postseason.
Since her retirement, Lloyd has had an increasing presence in the football media. In April, she announced she would be in the studio with Fox Sports for her analyst debut during a USWNT test match against Uzbekistan. Days earlier, she was one of the many high-profile athletes on stage during the April 1 Men’s World Cup draw.
Lloyd returns to the NWSL in what will likely be remembered as a historic season for the league, which continues to grow in attendance and investment as women’s football booms around the world.
The 2022 season marks the league’s 10th season and is the third edition of a women’s professional soccer league in the United States. The previous two leagues – Women’s Professional Soccer and Women’s United Soccer Association – never got past their third season.
The past year has also been a tumultuous one for the NWSL, with several scandals emerging as players began sharing their stories of abusive coaches and systemic issues within a league that failed to protect players. Just before the start of the preseason, the league and its players achieved their first-ever collective bargaining agreement, which included a 160% increase in minimum wages, among other achievements for the union.
Weeks later, USWNT players celebrated a similar milestone after they settled their employer, the US Football Association, in their equal pay lawsuit for $24 million. In an interview with Outside the Lines, Lloyd described the agreement as a “historic moment”.
The NWSL is currently in the semi-finals round of their annual pre-season Challenge Cup tournament ending May 7th. Gotham FC will then start the regular season away against Orlando Pride on Sunday, May 1st.
Melanie Anzidei is a reporter for NorthJersey.com. email: email@example.com; Twitter: @melanieanzidei