Delanie Sheehan is Gotham FC's underappreciated superstar

  • The Gotham FC midfielder solidified her starting spot in 2023 after taking a circuitous route to get there
Delanie Sheehan of Gotham FC
Delanie Sheehan of Gotham FC / Eugene Gologursky/GettyImages

Despite not being one of the more notable names on the NJ/NY Gotham FC roster packed with superstars, there are fewer players more important to The Bats' success than Delanie Sheehan. However, her pathway towards becoming an important cog in a championship-winning team was not the traditional one that can be the norm with other players.

Picked in the 4th round, 33rd overall in the 2021 NWSL College Draft out of UCLA by Gotham FC (then known as Sky Blue FC), Sheehan did not make the team out of camp and instead signed as a National Team Replacement Player in July as the team had lost a few players to the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She would go on to make five appearances for the team before finishing off the season on loan with Paris FC.

After making nine appearances with Gotham in 2022, she signed a two-year extension in January of 2023. This is where under head coach Juan Carlos Amorós Sheehan began to shine. She managed to lock down a starting spot in late May, playing mainly in midfield but occasionally as a forward. She never looked back.

She started the vast majority of games throughout the rest of the season and all three games en route to the 2023 NWSL Championship. The midfielder scored the game-winning goal, her first for the club, in the first round of the playoffs against the North Carolina Courage.

Delanie Sheehan is underrated and fantastic

So what makes Sheehan so good? Her underlying attacking statistics are well above average. She ranks in the 70-80 percentile rankings of midfielders around the world in categories like non-penalty xG, shots, expected assisted goals, and shot-creating actions. In other words, she is more than competent in creating offensive chances in the attacking third.

Where she shines is in progressing the ball up the field. She ranks in the mid-90+ percentile rankings for progressive carries, successful take-ons, touches in the attacking penalty area, and progressive passes received. Simply put, when the ball is at Sheehan's feet, more often than not Gotham FC is progressing further up the field toward the opposition's goal.

So any time you see Lynn Williams or Yazmeen Ryan running up the wing with the ball shortly then followed by Esther González celebrating after putting the ball in the back of the night, Sheehan more than likely played a huge role in getting the ball into dangerous attacking areas to setup that attacking sequence of play.

When Gotham made their big splashes in free agency this offseason, you would be forgiven for thinking a player like Sheehan would have been one of the players squeezed out of a starting role. Three of the four USWNT players that were signed can play in midfield after all. However, not only did Sheehan start in the season opener Challenge Cup, but she has started in the team's four subsequent regular season games, going the full 90 minutes in two of them.

So while she doesn't have eye-popping numbers in the traditional stats like goals and assists, there are perhaps very few players who play as big a role in their team's success as Sheehan does at Gotham FC. And with an even better group of players around her this season, an ever-increasing feeling of comfort in her role, and the continued development under Amorós and his staff, there is potentially even more to come from Sheehan.

This might be a hot take, but keep an eye out for her potentially getting a USWNT call-up at some point after the Olympics later this year.