Carli Lloyd had a send off that few, if any players had, in 2021. (USA TODAY Sports)

It certainly was a year of change for NJ/NY Gotham FC.

The team started out 2021 known as Sky Blue but switched its name before the National Women’s Soccer League season kicked off.

Freya Coombe began as the coach, but Scott Parkinson was in charge by the end of the regular season and playoffs.

Alyse LaHue was the general manager but was fired in July. Yael Averbuch West was named as interim GM before she was given the permanent position.

No one knew it at the time, but U.S. women’s national team forward Carli Lloyd wound up calling 2021 her final season.

A year of change, indeed.

Let’s start at the top.

On April 6, only eight days prior to its first match in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, the name change was made.

“Today marks a new chapter for women’s soccer in the region,” club chair Tammy Murphy said. “We’re making this important change due to our rapid growth and evolution. Our new name reflects our expanding regional reach and captures the relentless determination, unlimited energy, and incredible diversity of the communities we represent.”

That was too close for comfort as the name change did not go down well with some entities that work with NWSL. A TV executive, who did not have a problem with the branding, felt it was too close to the season and it forced his team to switch several logos before broadcasts.

In a late Friday afternoon Tweet (July 16), the club announced in a Tweet that LaHue had been sacked, a week prior (July 9). The team’s decision to fire LaHue was based on results of a league investigation into “a complaint of violation of league policy.”

“During her three years with the club, Gotham FC has made significant strides on and off the field and built the foundation for continued success,” a club statement read.

The team did not explain why it took a week for it to make public LaHue’s firing.

Averbuch West, the first draft pick in Sky Blue (Gotham FC), took over on an interim basis, but was named fulltime GM on Dec. 7. Stephanie Lee was named assistant GM.

“Yael and Stephanie have done so much for our club in such a short period of time,” Murphy said. “They were instrumental in leading us to one of our most successful seasons in club history, and ownership is confident they will build on that success in 2022. The future is bright for Gotham FC, and I hope our fans are very excited about what we’re building here.”

On Aug. 23, Gotham FC announced that Coombe was leaving the team to direct Angel City FC, an expansion side that will start playing in 2022.

“I think everyone has been watching the story of Angel City unfold and I have been very impressed with the direction of the club and the core values upon which it is built,” Coombe said in a statement.

“When the opportunity to connect with [sporting director] Eni [Aluko] and the team arose, I knew I had to explore it. Leaving NJ/NY Gotham was not an easy decision, but the chance to join ACFC as the head coach of a new team was something I could not pass up.”

When Coombe left the team, Gotham (21 points) had a 5-5-6 record.

Eight days later on Aug. 31, club named Scott Parkinson as its head coach through the rest of the season. Directing the team to a fifth-place finish and a 8-5-11 record and 35 points before it was defeated by the Chicago Stars in the first round of the playoffs, 1-0, on Nov. 7.

Parkinson impressed management that he was hired as its fulltime season.

“I am incredibly grateful to ownership for this opportunity,” Parkinson said. “The evolution of this club on and off the field has been truly remarkable to watch, and I’m excited to be part of the next chapter. It’s an honor to work with such a talented and dedicated group of players. The potential here is limitless, and I cannot wait to get to work.”

As it turned out, Angel City FC’s influence around Gotham FC continued when the league on Nov. 11 fined the expansion club $40,000 for tampering with NJ/NY Gotham FC forward Allie Long. Long, a former member of the U.S. women’s national team, is a native of Northport, N.Y.

The $40K sanction was split between $20K in cash and another $20K in 2022 unfunded allocation money.

Gotham FC also said goodbye to a U.S. women’s national team legend, Lloyd, who set standards internationally that will be difficult to duplicate or surpass, finished her illustrious career with 134 goals in 316 appearances. She became the first player to score in consecutive victorious Olympic gold medal matches (2008 and 2012). She added a virtuoso performance in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final with a 16-minute hat-trick in the USA’s 5-2 win over Japan. The Medford, N.J. native also was a member of the U.S.’s bronze-medal winning squad at the Tokyo Olympics this year.

Lloyd, who joined the team when it was named Sky Blue in 2018, could not play as many games as she wanted with the NWSL club because of her USWNT commitments.

Regardless, Lloyd was productive and a fan favorite.

In fact, Lloyd had four farewell appearances – in her final match with the national side in St. Paul, Minn., a Gotham FC game in Chester, Pa., close to her hometown of Medford, Gotham FC’s regular season finale against Racing FC Louisville, in which she tallied in a 1-1 draw on Oct. 31, and the NWSL playoff match at the Red Stars.

Lloyd spent a good half hour talking to and signing autographs for the fans.

“People have driven and flown from all different states to come watch me play in this last little farewell a couple of months,” she said. “I’ve seen the posters. I’ve seen the jerseys, the shirts. Although I wish I could get to every single person, it’s nearly impossible or I’d probably be here all night, signing.

“It’s been really amazing. I’ve tried to afterwards and do as many autographs as I can. Our team’s got a little get together tonight. So, I want to wrap things up and get dressed and get ready for that and be able to kind of hang out with my teammates and stuff. It’s just been spectacular, and I’m very appreciative of all the support.

“I feel like I’ve been on this never-ending farewell game tour, but it’s been really amazing,” Lloyd said. “I’m very grateful. A lot of work has gone into putting on these farewell matches and just really appreciative of all the people who have helped make this truly special. It’s been an incredible journey; 17 years playing professional soccer.

“Obviously ended my career and the other night with the U.S. team. There’s just something different about playing for your country representing the crest for so long. It was incredible, this emotional moment, about being able to end here on a home match farewell game, having the game in Philly as well has been really, really special on the club level.”