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The National Women's Soccer League preseason is underway and 12 clubs are beginning their journeys to the 2022 season. The 2022 Challenge Cup will kick off on March 18 with the Cup final closing on May 7. After going through a rebrand last season, NJ/NY Gotham FC will try to build off their playoff appearances after some key player departures and big acquisitions. 

Head coach Scott Parkinson took over as head coach of the club midseason after former head coach Freya Coombe departed for Angel City FC. A former Chicago Red Stars assistant coach, Parkinson's coaching staff also includes former NWSL player Beverly Yanez as first assistant and Becki Tweed as second assistant. 

The club also has several women in administrative roles with the club, as General Manager Yael Averbuch West joined the club midseason during 2021 after the club parted ways with former GM Alyse LaHue. She is joined by former Utah Royals GM Stephanie Lee as assistant GM, and Andrea Pagnanelli was recently hired as Chief Business Officer. 

Let's take a look at NJ/NY Gotham FC and the roster ahead of the 2022 NWSL season:

Offseason Overview

Finish in 2021: After earning runners up in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, Gotham FC finished the regular season 5th overall entering postseason in the first ever expanded playoff format. It was the first appearance in the NWSL playoffs since their inaugural season as Sky Blue FC in 2013. Their path to the playoffs wasn't easy, as the team struggled to lock down a spot deep into the regular season, and needed some extra help from other results going their way on the final day of the season. They went on to lose in the quarterfinal to Chicago Red Stars, 1-0. 

Biggest losses: The club bid farewell to veteran Carli Lloyd as the longtime longtime USWNT forward retired after the conclusion of the 2021 NWSL season. Ahead of a double team expansion draft, the club made deals with new California expansion sides Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC, as goalkeepers Kailen Sheridan and Didi Haracic made their departures to the west coast, as well as trading former 2021 first round draft pick Brianna Pinto to North Carolina Courage.

Biggest acquisitions:  After trading two starting caliber goal keepers, the club also saw the departure of another goalkeeper in Amanda McGlynn who is now playing overseas in Sweden. To fill the glaring gap in net, Gotham FC announced the arrival of Ashlyn Harris from the Orlando Pride along with defender Ali Krieger. The two time World Cup champions will help add to an already steady defensive backline, along with the acquisition of NWSL veteran keeper Michelle Betos.

The club also signed USWNT midfielder Kristie Mewis through 2024 after a trade with San Diego, and added another attacking piece in Cameron Tucker from BYU.

Burning Question Entering 2022 Season

While questions on how this team can maximize the talents across their roster remain, the club had had several moments in recent seasons where they've come up short in big matches. They were runners-up in the 2021 Challenge Cup, struggled to clinch a playoff spot and secure home field advantage last season, and had an early exit in their playoff debut as a newly branded side. So, the biggest question around the team as they begin their season is, can Gotham FC deliver when it counts? 

What the players are saying

In-between player departures and new acquisitions, the club also re-signed several starting players to new contracts -- including Caprice Dydasco, Allie Long, Ifeoma Onumonu, and USWNT forward Margaret Purce. A mix of returning players and new faces means new opportunity for chemistry on the pitch. 

Midfielder McCall Zerboni, a ten year veteran of the league, believes the new player additions will only help the club moving forward, and discussed the progress the franchise has made over the years with CBS Sports Attacking Third podcast.

"I had this moment, my first training session when I turned up and I just took a deep breath when I walked into our facility -- and I was just like, 'wow, the amount of gains this club has made in the past two years since I joined it' I am just so grateful and astounded by every single level OF professionalism," said Zerboni.

"I think it's a big ode and tribute to my existing players and the culture that they've created here that has now been a desirable place to come play. There's only positive rumblings with Gotham around the league. So, when you see big names wanting to come play here, I just feel very grateful and fortunate. And I just really want to thank my teammates for that, because they have created this desirable thing that we have here now."

Want more coverage of women's soccer? Listen below and make sure to follow Attacking Third, A CBS Soccer Podcast devoted to bringing you everything you need to know from the NWSL and around the globe.  

Who will crack the starting XI

Even with some new faces, Gotham have many of their starting caliber players returning this season. The amount of talent on the pitch will depend on how Parkinson and the coaching staff plan to play. Though, if healthy, audiences can expect to see an attack that might mirror last season with Purce and Onumonu in the mix going forward.

Defensively, Dydasco is coming off a big season where she earned Defender of the Year honors, and is likely a lock to slot back into the outside back position. Dorsey could be the opposite outside back alongside Dydasco, but has had to navigate lingering injuries. 

The middle third is crowded with talent, and time will tell if there is a formation or style that Parkinson will utilize to somehow feature Cudjoe, Kawasumi, Long, Zerboni, and Mewis to the best of their abilities.

Preseason Roster

Gotham FC currently have a 30 player preseason roster as the team kicks off preseason, as defenders the most crowded line with 12 players. Teams will likely narrow down rosters ahead of the 2022 Challenge Cup. 

Goalkeepers (3): Michelle Betos, Ashlyn Harris, Hensley Hancuff

Defenders (12): Imani Dorsey, Caprice Dydasco, Elizabeth eddy, Sabrina Flores, Mandy Freeman, Ellie Jean, Estelle Johnson, Ali Krieger, Gina Lewandowski, Julia Grosso, Kelly Ann Livingstone, Amanda Visco

Midfielders (10): Nicole Baxter, Jennifer Cudjoe, Naho Kawasumi, Allie Long, Kristie Mewis, Domi Richardson, Delanie Sheehan, Taryn Torres, McCall Zerboni, Tess Boade

Forwards (5): Paige Monaghan, Ifeoma Onumonu, Margaret Purce, Cameron Tucker, Jenna Bike

Final prediction

More teams in the league means even more parity and competition than before. Expect Gotham to improve on their previous season, but marginally, perhaps with a fourth place finish instead of fifth.