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Midge Purce: I want to be a top player for club and country

The Gotham FC forward discusses her new contract, what to expect in the NWSL this year, and what’s going on with the USWNT.

Photo: Gotham FC.

Margaret “Midge” Purce is anticipating an important year ahead of herself, both at the club level for Gotham FC and the international level for the United States Women’s National Team, but she is the first to recognize that she’s been in this situation before.

Purce arrived at Gotham in 2020, which was then called Sky Blue FC, and has been a shining point in a pair of seasons in which the team couldn’t find cohesion or consistent results. While her status has been growing both on and off the field, she has stuck with the Goths long enough to see a considerable amount of teammates and staff replaced during her time with the club. 

“When I came to Sky Blue it was unexpected and every year since then I’ve had a new coach,” Purce said Monday at the team’s Media Day. “I think there’s a change and you can kind of feel a shift in the locker room, a shift with media, a shift with the staff on the business side and on the club side and it feels like we’re really pushing together.”

Now working with a fourth head coach, Purce also signed a new contract that the team announced on Monday. Purce’s dedication through tough times has earned her a new deal through 2024 with a one-year option. 

“I don’t take signing anything lightly,” said Purce. “It was a decision that I thought about for a long time. I really considered where I wanted to be and what I wanted my career to look like at this stage of my life. There really was no other option, it was Gotham.”

Purce joined Gotham after a breakout season with the Portland Thorns that saw her shift from defensive-minded positions to the wing, where she became an instant threat. After the shortened 2020 campaign, Purce picked up where she left off, scoring nine times in 17 league games. 

Those performances earned Purce a regular spot on the USWNT roster in 202. She was a part of the USWNT that has claimed the last three SheBelieves Cups and the 2022 CONCACAF W championship, scoring 4 goals in 23 appearances. 

Along with the commitment to herself, Purce praised the moves Gotham’s front office made this winter towards building a successful roster, particularly alongside her in the attack. The addition of three-time NWSL champion Lynn Williams adds an immediate threat on the opposite wing.

“She’s so difficult to defend, to deal with and I think it makes our attack so multifaceted that people are going to have to resolve a lot of problems. And at the end of the day, they’re just gonna have to pick what they think the biggest ones are.”

Finding the back of the net was the biggest issue plaguing Gotham last year. Purce was no exception — the Maryland native tallied just three goals in 2022, falling far short of her nine goals in 2021. When Purce was asked about her personal aims for the season, the list started and ended with scoring. 

“Last year is not something that was enjoyable for me, it makes me sick,” said Purce. “This year I want to score goals on both the national team and for the club, I want to be a top player in both settings. That’s all I’m after.”

That slight dip in form has put her spot on the USWNT up for grabs in an important World Cup year. Purce was called up to Vlatko Arnautovic’s squad for last month’s SheBelieves Cup, but the goalscoring form of Mallory Swanson limited Purce to just a two-minute cameo in the win over Canada. 

This comes after missing Arnautovic’s team for friendlies at the end of 2022 and hearing rather blunt wishes from the national team head coach. Despite the stakes applied to the first few months of her sixth NWSL season, Purce doesn’t seem to be letting it approach her preparation.

“Regardless of how I’m coming from last year, how I’m coming from [USWNT] camps, the plan is always to come flying out of the gate and be the best possible version of myself as possible.”

Midge Purce and Gotham FC open the 2023 NWSL Season with a trip to BMO Stadium to take on Angel City FC on March 26 at 9 pm ET. The home opener will take place the following weekend, when Gotham hosts OL Reign at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, April 1, at 7:30 pm ET.