USWNT's defensive warrior Kelley O'Hara announces retirement

Kelley O'Hara's iconic, gritty defensive play has taken its toll and after 15 years of professional soccer she's hanging up her boots
Kelley O'Hara winning 2023 NWSL Championship with NJ/NY Gotham FC
Kelley O'Hara winning 2023 NWSL Championship with NJ/NY Gotham FC / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

She's fearless, mischievous, and full of spunk. She's admired and respected. Intimidating and loved. She's Kelley O'Hara.

Does she get tired? Logic tells me yes. My memories of her comfortably outlasting me on fitness tests tells me no.

So while it's not shocking that a 35 year old battling ankle and knee injuries would announce their retirement, Kelley O'Hara has always seemed to defy logic, and part of me assumed she might just keep chugging along forever.

But alas, the unmistakable ring of her shouting "lets f-ing go" is fading, with an expiration date marked for the end of the 2024 NWSL season.

Who am I kidding? She'll be shouting that long after her boots are hung up.

Kelley O'Hara has made a career out of playing as if there's no other possible outcome than to win. Sacrificing her body to bone crunching tackles, a stubborn persistence on offense and defense, diving headers, thigh scraping slide tackles, up and back and up and back until she wears the grass blades on the right flank down to nubs. This is what made her indispensable for club and country. It's also why at 35 her body is saying "no more."

Kelley O'Hara's just about won it all

O'Hara leaves the game she loves so fiercely as an Olympic gold medalist and 2x World Cup champion with 160 caps for her country. She's also a WPS champion and 2x NWSL champion. All that's left is one final NWSL championship with NJ/NY Gotham for the cherry on top.

At the end of the day though, the cherry, while impotant to her and an undeniably excellent exclamation mark, is not what will define her remarkable career. She's already solidified her legacy and even without the cherry, the cake underneath is still one made by a Michelin-star chef.


Her fire and passion and refusal to give anything but her whole self to every moment will be missed. She's a rare being, and US Soccer was made better for her being a part of it.