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(Photo by Claudia de la Rosa - JSN)

Gotham FC stars join USWNT Celebration of Equal Pay

The USWNT Players' Ball took place on Monday, Nov. 14, at Pier 61 in Chelsea, New York. Past and present stars came to celebrate the historic achievement that featured a red carpet and an indoor celebration.

Retired forward Abby Wambach was the first one on the red carpet. She said, "It's a celebration of the hard work." Wambach played through a time when equal pay was not the norm. Now, she could come together with the present team and some of her former teammates to celebrate the players and all they've done for this moment. She played on the USWNT from 2001-2015, where she played in her last World Cup. Wambach was the all-time leading goal scorer in the world before being outscored by Canadian forward Christine Sinclair.

Former USWNT player Heather O'Reilly and East Brunswick, New Jersey native was also in attendance. O'Reilly played on the national team from 2002-2016 and in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) until her retirement in 2019. "It's really special because we don't have many opportunities to get together, former players on the women's national team and current players, and for me, that sisterhood is very special," she said.

Current USWNT and San Diego Wave FC player Alex Morgan attended the red carpet before the celebration started. "It's so great. It just means that all the hard work has paid off to be able to put this on," she said.

NJ/NY Gotham FC players Kristie Mewis, Margaret Purce, Mandy Freeman, Taylor Smith, Ali Krieger and Allie Long were all in attendance as well. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris announced her retirement at the event after one season with the team. Newly signed free-agent Kelley O'Hara attended the red carpet and the celebration as well. Minority owner Sue Bird was in attendance with USWNT and OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe, who had a big hand in achieving equal pay.

Other stars like Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Julie Foudy, Sam Mewis, Lynn Williams, Rose Lavelle, Emily Sonnett, Crystal Dunn and many more went to celebrate the occasion.

After the red carpet commenced, the players and guests headed inside to continue the celebration. After many, many years of unequal pay between the USWNT and the United States Men's National Team (USMNT), the two teams are finally being paid the same amount. A celebration was definitely what the players needed after a very long fight for equal pay.

The USWNT returns to action in January to play two friendlies against New Zealand to kick off their 2023 Women’s World Cup campaign.

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