One thing is for sure: 2018 was not Kelley O’Hara’s year, and it did not have anything to do with her on-field performance. On May 9, the U.S. international injured her hamstring in the final minutes of the game against Orlando Pride at Rio Tinto Stadium, and though it was not the first time she found herself struggling with the injury, on that night, the pull she felt would sideline her for three months.
Losing O’Hara a month into the season already added to Utah Royals FC’s struggles to produce goals and victories. O’Hara is the type of player who can not only defend well at right back, but who can move up the flanks to help the attack and even score goals from that right back spot, and it was one of the major reasons O’Hara was acquired from Sky Blue FC via a trade in December 2017.
O’Hara returned to the field on August 22, 2018 for the first time since May 9 against Washington Spirit and played 45 minutes in the final game against Chicago Red Stars on September 8, offering glimpses of what could have been if she had been 100% for the 16 games she missed. Maybe the Royals would have been in better position for the playoffs.
In her eight appearances, O’Hara completed 70.2% of her passes of the 228 total passes she attempted. Defensively, O’Hara had 7 clearances, 2 blocks, and 8 interceptions, winning 70% of duels. In the attack, O’Hara had 8 shots, 5 of them on target. Her one goal against Washington Spirit on May 5, 2018 helped Utah Royals FC record their first win of the season.
This past October, O’Hara addressed another lingering injury as she underwent an arthroscopic ankle procedure to remove loose bodies in her right ankle, sidelining her for 8-12 weeks. The procedure was performed during this period so O’Hara could be 100% heading into 2019.
On October 1, Utah Royals FC announced that O’Hara would remain on the current roster as an allocated player for the 2019 season, and that, along with a healthy Kelley O’Hara is good news for Utah Royals FC.