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Gotham F.C. Achieves Its Captain’s Dream of Victory

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. Today we’ll find out how Gotham F.C. became the one New York area team to win a championship this year. We’ll also get details on what Donald Trump Jr. said in his second appearance in the civil fraud trial against his family and the Trump Organization.

Ali Krieger celebrated with teammates after winning the N.W.S.L. Championship match on Saturday. Credit…Caroline Brehman/EPA, via Shutterstock

Over the weekend Gotham F.C. became the one New York area team to win a championship this year. The team’s new president, Mary Wittenberg, said last month that it was already a big win to make the playoffs. I asked my colleague Claire Fahy, who has kept up with Gotham F.C. all year, to explain how the team accomplished what it did. Here’s what she said:

Last year, Gotham F.C. finished 12th out of 12 teams in the National Women’s Soccer League. Last month, the team barely clinched the final spot in the playoffs on a chaotic “decision day,” when almost every team still had a chance at the playoffs and the decisive final games kicked off at the same time.

But Gotham became comfortable in its role as spoiler, and the players seemed to believe that anything was possible. Their motivation was powerful: A loss at any stage of the playoffs would end the career of the team’s captain, Ali Krieger, 39, who had announced she would retire when the season was over. “It’s not Ali Krieger’s last game!” became the team’s rallying cry.

Win or lose, Saturday’s match finally was Krieger’s last game. And in a storybook ending, Gotham F.C. beat Seattle’s O.L. Reign, 2-1.

“You always dream of it that way, right?” Krieger said in an interview on Monday. “You always dream of envisioning yourself on a podium, with the trophy and with the confetti falling.”

For Krieger, it was the end of a long road that wound through Germany and Sweden before bringing her back to the United States to help start the N.W.S.L., a career that reflected the struggle to establish a competitive American women’s soccer league. Along the way, she expanded the representation of L.G.B.T.Q. people in professional sports and fought for equal pay alongside her teammates on the U.S. women’s national squad.

Gotham F.C. embodies how the N.W.S.L. has changed over the years. In 2018, the team, then called Sky Blue, became notorious for its poor training conditions, which included a lack of showers in the locker rooms, rotating practice fields with uneven grass and bunk beds in team-provided accommodations.

Since then, the team has rebranded itself, improved its facilities and made hiring changes, including bringing in a new head coach, Juan Carlos Amorós, who was named N.W.S.L. Coach of the Year last week.

And also last week, Carolyn Tisch Blodgett, a member of the family that co-owns the New York Giants, announced that she would join Gotham as a minority owner. The team’s ownership includes Gov. Philip Murphy of New Jersey and his wife, Tammy Murphy, who together owned Sky Blue in 2018. In addition to Tisch Blodgett, the minority owners now include the W.N.B.A. legend Sue Bird, the former N.F.L. quarterback Eli Manning and the N.B.A. star Kevin Durant.

The team will now be looking to build on the momentum of a winning season. Gotham’s average attendance — 6,300 people per game, up 42 percent this season from last — still lags behind league leaders like the San Diego Wave and Angel City F.C., which draw an average of 20,000 fans at each game.

“This is going to be such a fun city for an organization to really thrive and start building a legacy in,” Krieger said.

And now, she’s done something she had never done before — win an N.W.S.L. championship — while playing some of her best soccer. On Saturday, she stepped onto the podium and hoisted the trophy as confetti poured down, just as she had dreamed.

“My career has been a gift,” she said, “and to really wrap it up with a bow at the end was just so phenomenal for me.”


Weather

A mostly sunny day with temperatures reaching the low 50s. The evening will remain mostly clear, with temperatures in the mid-30s.

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING

In effect until Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Day).


The latest New York news

Credit…Mark Makela for The New York Times
  • Amtrak service suspended: Amtrak train service on the line between New York City and Albany was again disrupted on Monday morning because of structural issues in a parking garage above the tracks in Midtown Manhattan.

  • High school opt-out: New York could soon stop requiring many high school students to take Regents exams to earn a diploma, a major step in a sweeping overhaul of the state’s graduation system.

  • Leaving Congress early: Representative Brian Higgins, who has spent 19 years in the House from a district that includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls, announced that he would step down in February, before his term ends. He called the Republican leadership of the House “the poster child for dysfunction right now.”

  • Maryanne Trump Barry dies: The former federal judge was an older sister of Donald Trump and served as both his protector and his critic throughout their lives. She was 86.


Donald Trump Jr., back on the witness stand

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s eldest son, made a return appearance to testify in the civil fraud case against his father and the family business.

He talked in bursts of hyperbole and platitudes. He described his father as a “visionary” and “an artist with real estate” who “creates things that other people would never envision.” He praised amenities including the Central Park views from Trump Tower and the vaults inside the company’s 40 Wall Street building.

His testimony was intended to illustrate a key defense claim: The Trump holdings are extremely valuable, and the company’s annual financial statements, if anything, underrate them.

New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, has accused the former president and other defendants, including Donald Jr. and his brother Eric, of fraudulently inflating the value of assets to obtain favorable loans and insurance deals. Donald Jr., in his first appearance on Nov. 1, testified that he had no direct involvement in the annual financial statements that Justice Arthur Engoron has already ruled were fraudulent.

At times during the trial, Engoron has been impatient with the Trumps and their lawyers, particularly over responses he deemed rambling or indirect. But when lawyers from James’s team raised objections during Donald Jr.’s testimony on Monday, Engoron waved them aside. “Let him go ahead and talk about how great the Trump Organization is,” Engoron said at one point.

Later in the day the judge told Donald Jr. to speak more slowly. “We like the enthusiasm, but try to eliminate the speed,” Engoron said.

Donald Jr., who led off the family’s rebuttal to James’s accusations, was shown dozens of images of luxury properties — a deliberate contrast to the spreadsheets and emails that James’s team presented as it laid out its case.

Trump talked about how the company had turned around moribund assets, including the Wollman Rink in Central Park and 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. In each case, Trump said the properties had fallen into disrepair and that no one had seen their potential — no one but his father.

The company, however, no longer manages the ice rink. New York City moved to cut ties with the former president after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The Trumps also recently sold their lease on a public golf course in the Bronx, which did not stop the defense from playing a tourism video for the property during on Monday.

As for 40 Wall Street, James says that the Trumps artificially inflated the value of the property, a 927-foot neo-Gothic tower, in part by claiming to have signed tenants who had yet to commit.


METROPOLITAN diary

Quite a ride

Dear Diary:

We were running late to meet friends for dinner at a restaurant in the West 50s.

There were no taxis in sight, and the closest subway station was several blocks away. So we hopped into a pedicab and wove off through the early evening theater-district traffic.

Eleven hair-raising minutes later, we arrived at the restaurant, almost on time.

I tried to pay the driver with a credit card, but his card reader malfunctioned and couldn’t process the transaction. I gave him cash instead.

A short time later, as we finished our pre-dinner cocktails, the hostess approached our table and asked if we had arrived in a pedicab. The driver, she said, was there and wanted to talk to me.

He was waiting when I got to the front door. He said his card reader had started working again and that it had somehow processed my payment.

He was there to give me my cash back.

— Tom Lippman

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.


Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Geordon Wollner and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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