On Monday, Utah Royals FC officially confirmed the news we heard last Friday, that Laura Harvey had stepped down as Utah Royals FC Head Coach. Harvey is set to become the Head Coach for the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team, giving her an opportunity to elevate her international coaching career.
With the surprising departure, voices of RSL Soapbox for our Utah Royals FC coverage give their thoughts on the departure and possible replacements.
The timing is what is most surprising of these news. At the end of last season, Laura Harvey confirmed her return for 2020, so we were all expecting her for a third year, hoping that this would be the year she got some things right, but it appears she had an offer from U.S. Soccer that was worth leaving Utah.
It is bittersweet to lose a head coach as respected and loved as Harvey. It does not surprise me that she landed a job with U.S. Soccer. She now has the chance to build her resume further and hopefully one day, she lands a high-profile coaching job with a national team.
And it might have been time for Harvey to move on. From a Laura Harvey level of success, the two seasons in Utah were underwhelming. Utah should have made the playoffs last season. We saw the magic of a Harvey team from August until mid-September, but the team, somehow, hit a major wall in Houston and never recovered, finishing instead in 6th place.
As far as her possible replacements go, the club could very well stick with interim head coach Scott Parkinson with Amy LePeilbet as an assistant, or vice-versa. I think losing a head coach this late, with the season so close, a college draft away, and pre-season in a month, the best course of action is sticking with the staff who knows the team best.
I’m completely shocked by Laura Harvey leaving. She was rumored to have an opportunity to coach the U-18 WNT, which sounded like a temporary deal, but a week or so later, it was announced she was leaving permanently.
To me, she underperformed the two years she was here, but I was willing to give her one more year to see if she could turn it around. That’s not going to happen now. Before Harvey took a job with URFC, the US Soccer Federation was rumored to have a job of sorts for her. Things went south, and she ended up with Utah.
As Cindy said above, it quite possibly was time for her to move on. The team had a talented roster, with Christen Press, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Amy Rodriguez all on the roster. Both years they didn’t make the playoffs. With that talent, they should’ve made it, even with national team players missing time.
For a replacement, I think Scott Parkinson or Amy LePeilbet are great options to replace her. Both have been with the club since the beginning, and they know the players. I’d prefer to see either one of them, but if we were to go to an outside hire, Jill Ellis, the former USWNT head coach is available. It’s sad to see Laura Harvey go, but there are good options to replace her.
Sidenote: We will miss Laura Harvey. She always answered our questions in post-game conferences, and we appreciated her dedication to helping Utah Royals FC get their start. We wish her the best with U.S. Soccer.