In 2018, Lo’eau LaBonta was a sort of super-sub for Utah Royals FC. She played in 16 matches, but only 8 of those appearances were starts, and she saw just 864 minutes. She was supposed to come on and make an impact, but in 2019, that changed. LaBonta was one of the players who took the World Cup and some injuries and used it to her advantage.
In 2019, LaBonta saw 1,858 minutes and 22 starts. She played in all but two of Utah’s matches. LaBonta did herself a lot of favors, too, by quickly becoming a goalscoring threat for Utah. LaBonta scored the lone goal in Utah’s 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit to start the 2019 campaign.
After that opening goal, LaBonta saw regular minutes, though not another goal or assist for a couple months. She was still a large part of the attack, making 19 key passes, but not a name you saw on the scoresheet.
Then came August. In three games, LaBonta had a goal and two assists. One of the goals she scored came in Utah’s first-ever win over Reign FC, a 3-1 away result. The assists came one in a 3-0 throttling of Sky Blue FC, then another in Utah’s 2-0 win over the Orlando Pride. This spell for LaBonta provided some life in Utah’s push for the playoffs, though it wasn’t quite enough to get them in.
LaBonta worked incredibly hard to earn and keep her spot in 2019, and there’s no reason to expect she won’t continue to keep it in 2020. Although there may be more signings that lead to more competition for minutes, if LaBonta plays as she did in 2020, it’ll be tough to take minutes from her.
On December 6, it was officially announced that LaBonta re-signed with the Royals for the 2020 season.