Kelley O'Hara, 2-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist, to retire after 2024 NWSL season

O'Hara, who was part of a golden era for USWNT, is hanging up her cleats

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 accomplished career, defender Kelley O'Hara is retiring at the end of the 2024 NWSL season. (Photo by Evan Yu/Getty Images)

Kelley O'Hara, defender for the USWNT and for Gotham FC, announced Thursday that she will retire at the end of the 2024 NWSL season, which concludes in October.

O'Hara, 35, announced the news exclusively through 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 retirement.

"I have always said I would play under two conditions: that I still love playing soccer, and if my body would let me do it the way I wanted to," O’Hara told Just Women’s Sports. "I realized a while back 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 ended, O'Hara said she gave her future serious consideration, but hasn't had any second thoughts since making the decision to move on.

"Once I was like, 'Alright, you know what, this will be my last year,' I have had a lot of peace with it," she said. "Truly the only thing I felt was gratitude for everything that my career has been, all the things I've been able to do and the people I've been able to do it with."

O'Hara has been playing high-level soccer 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 of the USWNT along with Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and others, an era which only recently came to an end.

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

As for what the future holds, O'Hara isn't sure yet. But she does know she wants to remain 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 do want to stay as close as I can to the game, because I feel a responsibility — and I'm not sure in what capacity — to continue to grow it."