Okay. It is officially the NWSL off-season. Before we know it, we’ll begin to hear which players re-sign with Utah Royals FC. For our roundtable this week, we wanted to turn our attention to the players we will not see in Utah gold for 2019. Sadly, it will happen because, you know, that’s how sports work.
So, with that in mind, the question we ponder this week: Which players do we see leave Utah Royals FC?
Player not returning: Elise Thorsnes
This may be an obvious one, but halfway through the season, I had a feeling that Elise Thorsnes was not going to finish the season.
For a player that was hyped as a scoring threat when she signed with the club, Thorsnes was rarely that player when she played, which did not help the Royals struggling offense. In nine games and 353 minutes in 2018, the Norwegian international managed two shots, zero which were on target, and no assists. A hamstring strain injury also plagued Thorsnes for the majority of the season, so we saw her on the injury report often. But when she was on the field, Thorsnes simply did not contribute significantly.
Near the end of the season, we found out that Thorsnes’ time in Utah was done, and she was set to transfer to a club in Norway on a loan. Even though the clubs agreed, the NWSL said Utah could not release her because she was on the injury list.
The league may have temporarily halted the transfer, but I believe it will be a permanent move once the transfer is allowed.
Player not returning: Brittany Ratcliffe
It would be heartbreaking, yet not too surprising, to see Brittany Ratcliffe seek another team this off-season. We’ve seen the flashes of what she’s capable of, and she’s a young enough player to have a bright future ahead of her still. What she needs is consistent playing time, and I’m not sure she can find that in Utah.
The emergence of Katie Bowen as a solid right back might mean Kelley O’Hara sees more time as a forward next season, and with Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez, and Katie Stengel all taking considerable minutes up top as well, there may not be room for another starting forward on the team. Though it’s impossible to predict just what Laura Harvey and company have planned, this one wouldn’t shock me too much.
Player not returning: Nicole Barnhart
The only player I feel rather confident about not returning is Nicole Barnhart. I would hope that she stays with the Royals as a GK coach, but that will remain to be seen.
Becca Moros and Diana Matheson are both getting on in age as well, but should have at least one more season in them.
Stockton Mair (Fan Voice)
Player not returning: Alex Arlitt
I’ve had a hard time with this question. I’ve gone over the roster a dozen times to see who could possibly leave. I don’t like any answer I’ve seen. The Royals have been in existence for only one season, and all of the players are very likable. Unfortunately, though, we will see some roster turnover this off-season.
One of the players I think that won’t return next season is Alex Arlitt. She’s a defender but didn’t play at all this season due to a knee injury. She’s had injuries in her past that have ended her season early, starting with FC Kansas City in 2016. She missed all of 2017 and this past season. Arlitt was injured when she was with the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Australian W-League, and she also had an injury in college that kept her out most of the year.
Then there’s the defensive depth chart. Even with Becky Sauerbrunn and Rachel Corise missing a portion of the season next year due to the World Cup, she’d still be behind Sydney Miramontez, Becca Moros, Katie Bowen, and Samantha Johnson. She could make the roster and be on the bench if she stays healthy during the World Cup, but otherwise, she likely wouldn’t make the 18 with talent ahead of her. I don’t want to see anybody leave, but it’s going to happen. I think Arlitt will be gone.
Player not returning: Samantha Johnson
This might be a little bit of a hot take, but I’m not intending it to be. I don’t think Johnson wants to leave Utah. I don’t believe she has some sort of vendetta against the city and is miserable, but Laura Harvey is a coach that loves to trade.
I could see Johnson being used as a high caliber player used in a trade (potentially alongside some draft picks again) to get a bigger named player. Although I hope this doesn’t happen, knowing Laura, she might just find herself thrown into a trade.
Well, there you have it. Our picks for players we can see moving on or traded. Which player(s) do you think will be with a new team next season?