Two-time World Championship champion and Olympic gold medalist Kelley O’Hara will retire after the 2024 NWSL season

HARRISON, NEW JERSEY - MARCH 15: Kelley O'Hara #5 of NJ/NY Gotham FC acknowledges the crowd after the 2024 NWSL Challenge Cup against San Diego Wave FC at Red Bull Arena on March 15, 2024 in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Evan Yu/Getty Images)

After an illustrious and successful career, defenseman Kelley O’Hara will retire at the end of the 2024 NWSL season. (Photo by Evan Yu/Getty Images)

Kelley O’Hara, a defenseman for the USWNT and for Gotham FC, announced Thursday that she will retire at the end of the 2024 NWSL season, which ends in October.

O’Hara, 35, announced the news exclusively via Just Women’s Sports, in both an article and a special “Kelley on the Street” YouTube video in which she asks people she meets on the street about their retirement.

“I always said I would play under two conditions: that I still enjoy playing football, and that my body would allow it the way I wanted,” O’Hara told Just Women’s Sports. “I realized a while ago that I was always going to love it, so it was the physical piece that was going to be the deciding factor.”

Once the 2023 NWSL season concluded, O’Hara said she seriously considered her future, but has had no reservations since making the decision to move on.

“Once I thought, ‘Okay, you know what, this is going to be my last year,’ I made a lot of peace with it,” she said. “Really, all I felt was gratitude for everything my career has been, all the things I’ve been able to do and the people I’ve been able to do them with.”

O’Hara has been playing football at a high level since she was a child. She began representing the United States in 2004 as part of the Under-16 team, and would continue to do so through the 2023 Women’s World Cup. She was part of that golden era alongside Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and others of the USWNT, an era that only recently came to an end.

But it was a golden age for a reason. As part of that team, O’Hara was a two-time World Cup champion, Olympic gold medalist, three-time CONCACAF women’s champion and five-time SheBelieves Cup champion. She has also won two NWSL championships.

O’Hara isn’t sure yet what the future holds for her. But she knows she wants to stay close to the game she loves so she can give back to the next generation.

“I just feel like I have a lot of passions and things that excite me,” she said. “And I want to stay as close to the game as possible, because I feel a responsibility – and I’m not sure in what capacity – to continue to grow it.”