Taylor Smith, Gotham FC
Taylor Smith for Gotham FC vs Houston Dash (7-31-22)

Taylor Smith Finds a Home at Gotham FC

Taylor Smith was looking for a spark. After bouncing around between a few different teams in the NWSL, including a few years with the North Carolina Courage, she landed at Gotham FC in the middle of the 2022 season. For the 28-year-old, it immediately felt like the perfect fit.

“I was with the Courage for some time, and I was looking for something different. I wanted something that would spark my career again,” Smith told Nets Republic. “I had gotten to the point where I just really wanted to believe in myself again. I wanted to take control of my career, and I felt it was best to move environments. Gotham was the perfect place to do that.”

Most importantly for Smith, Gotham has given her the opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact on the field, and she couldn’t be happier.

“All year I’ve had this new mindset of being obsessed with becoming the best version of myself, and being at Gotham allows me to do that every single day,” she said.

Smith, who plays as both a defender and a forward for Gotham, firmly believes she has not yet reached her ceiling, and she is committed to getting better every single year at Gotham. In fact, she is so committed that she just signed a three-year deal with the organization, extending her time with the club through 2025. 

Valued, Supported, and Trusted

After finishing out the 2022 season with Gotham FC, Taylor Smith became a free agent. This is the first time in NWSL history that any players have had free agency, giving them significant control over their next moves. The decision to continue with Gotham was an easy one for Smith. She quickly formed a strong trust with the organization, and above all, she trusted in herself. 

“This is the first time at a club where I really felt valued. My fitness was top-notch this year, and I feel like that allowed Gotham to trust me and play me almost a full 90 every game,” she said. “I believe that my trust in myself meant I was going to show up and be ready every day. My team trusts me, I have found my groove, and I have been building off that. It’s been such a great fit.”

Taylor Smith for Gotham FC
Taylor Smith for Gotham FC vs Houston Dash.

The trust-building at Gotham started right away for Smith. The organization ensured a quick and smooth transition for her when she first arrived and has been receptive to her input from the beginning.

“Because I came from championship teams, I’ve been able to share what I have learned over the years that could help build the team back up after a tough year and create a competitive environment,” she said. “This is a great market to be in. This city sells itself, so it’s just the little pieces we can elevate a little bit to attract players and build ourselves up.” 

For Smith, Gotham is a team that truly reflects the city and region they represent. “This is the most diverse team I’ve been on, and it’s honestly so awesome,” she said. “Every individual is so unique and so special, we learn a lot from each other. It’s amazing to have an environment where everyone is so comfortable being completely themselves. That’s New York!”

Being in the greater New York City area has given Smith the opportunity to thrive both on and off the field. She not only gets to take advantage of the endless opportunity in the area, but she sees how the culture of this city bleeds into the mindset of Gotham FC.

“I honestly feel so lucky that I landed here. For some people, our record last season would be off-putting, but I do truly believe that after our last performance, we have such a good building piece,” she said. “I believe we have such a good group that will buy in, and once we have a coach, we’ll have a solid leader that everyone can follow.” 

A Budding Partnership

One big part of Gotham’s group is star striker Margaret “Midge” Purce. The impact of Smith’s budding partnership with Purce was seen in the final game of the season where Gotham pulled off a stunning comeback, fighting to a 3-3- draw with the league leaders Portland Thorns and denying the visitors the NWSL Shield. 

Taylor Smith for Gotham FC
Taylor Smith for Gotham FC vs Portland Thorns

“We complement each other so well. It’s funny because when you have two similar players it can get stagnant,” Smith said. “Obviously we both have the speed and physicality, but what makes our partnership so special is the tactical piece.”

As Smith sees it, she and Purce read the game well, but most importantly, they read each other well. She believes that next year as they work on this partnership even further, it will be a great piece for Gotham and become hard for other teams to defend.

“The whole team is great, and I’ve known Midge for such a long time,” Smith said. “When I spoke to her about coming to Gotham, she was so excited to get me here, and I was excited to come. I feel so lucky that she was very welcoming to me, and I’m really excited. She’s fun to play with, and it will be fun for Gotham fans next year to watch us be a dynamic duo!”

A New Season, A Fresh Start

Gotham’s 2022 season was far from easy. The club came firmly in last place, with a long losing streak only broken by a draw in the last game of the season. The situation was tough, but even in the short time Smith spent with the club this season, she saw first-hand the resilience and strength of the players around her. 

“Obviously everyone was feeling heavy about the situation, but no one shied away from the challenge, which is so telling about the team culture that we’ll have next year,” she said. “Every game, even though we were in this rut, we’re constantly trying to problem solve. You need that if the team is going to be successful. Everyone has to be adaptable.”

Taylor Smith for Gotham FC
Taylor Smith for Gotham FC vs Orlando Pride

On a personal level, Smith has learned over her six-year professional career that you have to show up 100% of the time, no matter the circumstances, even if it starts to feel insurmountable. “Any time that I’ve not been motivated or not been fully there, I always wish I could get that time back,” she said. “Every time I step on the field, I want to embrace this performance and be the best Taylor Smith that I can give, and that has catapulted me to be such an impact player each game.”

In Gotham, Smith also sees an organization looking to be their best version for the players. “The club as a whole really wants to be a club that competes,” she said. “It’s not a club that has historically had a winning culture, and we’re trying to flip that.”

As the NWSL sees clubs all around the league pushing the standards, Gotham FC is determined to not get left behind. “We have people pushing the standards here,” she said. “The NWSL as a whole has always been teetering and in survival mode, but now we can look at how [Gotham] can not just meet the requirements, but be the standard.”

For now, Smith is using her time in the off-season to work on some personal projects, collaborate with teammates, stay in shape, and get ready for the 2023 season. “I’m excited for next year,” she said. “I know we’re going to be great.”