The 2018 Utah Royals FC season might be a tale of “what might have been” for Taylor Lytle. Signed as a discovery player in 2013 by Sky Blue FC, she worked her way from substitute to regular starter in her five seasons in New Jersey. She developed a pretty solid chemistry on the right wing with the support of Kelley O’Hara playing fullback behind her, with the two often combining on the overlap to cause trouble for defenses along with Sam Kerr.
When Lytle was traded to Utah along with O’Hara, there remained the possibility that Laura Harvey could continue to take advantage of that partnership in her attacking plans, but the roster filled out with other options that made it difficult for Lytle to gain consistent minutes. She subbed sporadically through the first weeks and was absent entirely from the lineup for most of April and May until the injury to O’Hara led to Taylor making her first start as a Royal on June 2nd against her former team.
She would only start four times in her ten total appearances for the team and didn’t manage a goal for the team, though she did have two assists in her limited time including one on the game-winner against Chicago in the final match of the season.
Taylor is expected to be with Utah again in 2019, and will still be part of a deep midfield roster, with most of the players at her position expected to return along with injured players like Mandy Laddish and Makenzy Doniak. Though it may be difficult once again for her to find consistent playing time, she’ll be among several players who will be called on to stabilize the roster during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will see a considerable number of Royals players missing NWSL matches over the summer.