HOWELL — First lady Tammy Murphy is taking a more active role in the troubled Sky Blue professional women's soccer team co-owned by her husband, Gov. Phil Murphy.

The team, which begins preseason training for the 2019 season on March 4, came under criticism for housing the team in facilities with plastic bags for windows and using practice facilities at Rutgers that did not have showers. Olympian Carli Lloyd had to use a 50-gallon trash can in order to take a therapeutic ice bath. The team also did not have a laundry service to clean its practice gear.

The team plays its home games at Yurcak Field at the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus in Piscataway.

The governor acknowledged in a statement that team did not experience the "first-rate experience" they deserve and said he would require "accountability" from co-owner Steven Temares on making improvements.

The team announced that the first lady will be the "owner representative" in an effort to improve "the player experience," adding that it has acquired "upscale apartments and new furnishings."

The team said its office has moved closer to where players live. The current address for the team is Route 9 in Howell, about 50 miles from the field.

The team backed out of its involvement in the proposed Trophy Park youth sports facility in Jackson after it was criticized for its environmental impact.

Tammy Murphy said the team "recognizes there have been challenges but I am looking forward to create a climate of success" and promised more news about the team would be coming.

The team sent a flier to members of New Jersey Youth Soccer soliciting those who live within a half-hour drive of Monmouth County to consider housing for members of the team, according to the conservative political blog SaveJersey.com.

Host families receive four season tickets, invitations to team events and items from the team store. There is no mention of monetary compensation.

The Lakewood BlueClaws have housed players with families since they began playing in 2001 and are looking for another 30 homes for the upcoming season.  Families are not financially compensated by the team but often receive tickets from players. Hosts are permitted to work out an arrangement for rent with the player.

A team spokesman said some families participate in the housing program for many years.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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