It’s truly the end of an era. On Monday night, legendary U.S. National Team and NWSL goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris announced her retirement from her professional playing career. During a USWNT event in New York City, Ashlyn Harris addressed the crowd in front of an image detailing her tremendous success on the pitch. From her first senior team call-up in March 2013, to 180 NWSL appearances, Harris has played a pivotal part in growing the beautiful game both on the domestic and international stage.
A storied career, on and off the field
On Monday night, during her retirement speech at the USWNT Players Ball, Harris emotionally addressed a room full of current and former USWNT players, including teammates she has played with throughout her many years with the federation.
“You have been the greatest gift in this journey. You have kept me going all these years. You have inspired me every day to be better, to not cut corners. You have lifted me when I needed you most. You were my oxygen when times felt too tough to breathe,” Harris said. “I hope in some small way I’ve impacted your lives in the way you’ve impacted mine. Thank you for loving me unconditionally throughout it all. You will forever be my chosen family.”
Throughout her career, Harris has been widely considered an icon and a trailblazer both on and off the pitch.
Off the field, Harris has had a significant impact on fans of the game. Her openness about her past struggles with mental health and addiction, Harris has connected with her fans in deep and meaningful ways.
Harris, along with her wife and teammate Ali Krieger, has used her platform to support several important causes near to their hears, including and especially advocacy for LGBTQIA+ rights. The couple have adopted two children, Sloane and Ocean, and in March became paid partners with Vitamin Angels, a charity working to provide essential vitamins to underserved moms and kids who are at risk of malnutrition around the world.
During her remarks on Monday evening, Harris addressed her wife in the crowd. “I owe everything to this sport because it led me to you,” she said.
On the field, Harris has shined internationally. Her storied career began at the age of 16 as the youngest starter of the U-19 U.S. Women’s National Team. That squad would go on to win the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup. The 37-year-old boasts two FIFA World Cup championships with the senior USWNT in 2015 and 2019, and was named the Concacaf Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016.
In the NWSL, Harris played ten seasons for three teams: Washington Spirit, Orlando Pride, and Gotham FC. In 2016, she was named the NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year and to the NWSL Best XI. Harris played professionally in the NWSL’s predecessor league, Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), and in 2011 she won Goalkeeper of the Year while leading the New York Flash to a championship.
She played her final season in 2022 with Gotham FC, earning three clean sheets in 13 starts in the NWSL Challenge Cup and regular season before a knee injury took her out for the remainder of the season.
A new, familiar role
Although she might be hanging up her boots, Harris is not stepping away entirely from soccer or from Gotham FC. On Tuesday, the club announced that Harris will be joining the club’s front office in the newly-created position of Global Creative Advisor. According to the club, Harris will help shape the future of Gotham FC through collaborations with cutting-edge creatives and brands. In this role, she will help steer the artistic direction of Gotham FC in close collaboration with the club’s marketing team.
“I’m excited for this next phase of my career and to have this special opportunity to continue with Gotham FC in this role,” said Harris. “There is so much we can do as a club to further solidify its presence in this market and transform expectations of what a women’s soccer club can be.”
This new role should come easy for Harris, who already boasts an extensive resume of roles as a brand ambassador. In addition to her work collaborating with Adidas, Harris has done brand ambassador work and marketing collaboration with Fortune 500 companies including Ally and Hertz. Harris has worked as a professional model with Elite Model Management and worked creatively with leading fashion and beauty brands including Tag Heuer, Bumble and Bumble, and Thom Browne.
“We are thrilled that Ashlyn will be joining us in this new role at Gotham FC,” said Jonna Valente, Gotham FC’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. “She brings a unique perspective that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the club from a brand perspective. We are excited to collaborate with Ashlyn to drive Gotham FC forward.”