Kelley O’Hara is the lone US allocated player to appear for Utah Royals FC in 2020. The Olympic Gold Medalist and two time FIFA Wold Cup winner played just 64 minutes for Utah during the Challenge Cup, and declined to play during the fall series.
O’Hara had been recovering from an injury and her return to the field was a success in inself. During the Challenge Cup, she would train with the team, but did not dress for the first few games. She instead watched from the stands in an empty Zion’s Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.
The few minutes O’Hara played were not her best. She lost her mark and that led to a goal in the game against Chicago. Her athletic ability and competitive spirit were on full display, and even if she couldn’t be as impactful on the field as we know she’s capable of, her presence is a positive for the team. Her success to recover from her injury and participate during the Challenge Cup is a testament to her ambition.
O’Hara raised the ire of some fans by standing during the national anthem. She, along with the rest of the Utah players and staff, had knelt during their first game of the Challenge Cup to show solidarity with those affected by police brutality and as a stance against racism. This was and in common from many professional sports teams around the world in the wak of the killing of George Floyd by police officers. After that first game, O’Hara was one of only a few players to stand. This upset many fans who felt the outside back was not speaking out against racism.
After the Challenge Cup, O’Hara was close to a move to the Washington Spirit. It was a location that made since. She lives with her partner in Washington, D.C. during the offseason. With upheaval within the coaching staff and front office, it’s hard to blame a player for wanting to leave the club and it seemed as though the deal was nearly done. However, the move never made it across the finish line and as of now, O’Hara is still a Utah Royals player.
2021 will be interesting for Kelley O’Hara. She’ll certainly want to be a part of the USWNT squad that goes to the Olympics in the summer. If Washington don’t want to do a deal for her in the offseason, it’s likely she returns to Utah for the 2021 preseason. She’s one of the most talented players on the team, and if she can stay healthy, she can bring her world-class play to the Royals.