The Utah Royals FC website conducted a pre-season interview with head coach Laura Harvey, the second of its kind since her hiring in November. We break down the ten-minute interview as the Royals prepare for the 2018 season as the NWSL’s newest team in the league and to continue the hype of what is sure to be an exciting season.
If you have not bought into the hype, you definitely should. Harvey has worked to add veterans as she builds the Royals’ roster. So far, the Royals have announced Becky Sauerbrunn, Iceland international Gunnhildur “Gunny” Jonsdottir, Taylor Lytle, and Kelly O’Hara. Players who have substantial experience in professional and international play.
On Recruiting Sauerbrunn and O’Hara
Harvey admits that when she first got the coaching position, Sauerbrunn was one of the first phone calls she made as head coach to make sure that the captain of the former FC Kansas City team was comfortable and ready for what the Royals were looking for. When Sauerbrunn came to Utah to tour the facilities and meet with the owners, that experience and seeing the plans was “the nail in the coffin, really, of her being all bought in,” Harvey added.
“She brings such a charisma about the way she plays ... She leads the team by the way she plays. She’s someone that I think knows what it takes to win at this level. She’s obviously got two championships in the NWSL, so she knows exactly what it takes to be successful in the league, and she’s got an inherent care about the team. She wants us to be successful,” Harvey said about Sauerbrunn’s qualities as a leader and player.
With O’Hara, Harvey has always admired the versatile footballer, including her commitment to the league. Even with her national team duties, “she’s been someone that every week performs, and whenever I’ve played against her, she’s always caused me a problem, so I’m glad to have her on my side now.” Harvey said.
“She has this winning mentality that, you know, she’ll win on everything: fitness testing, sprints, stupid games that you would play. She wants to win everything. And you need people like that on your team if that’s what you want to do.”
Harvey also said that because of O’Hara’s experience and success as an outside back for the U.S. National Team, that is a position she’ll first explore, being mindful that O’Hara can play multiple positions. Ultimately, however, Harvey wants to help her cement her spot on the National Team and with the Royals as an outside back.
On noticing “Gunny” as a player for the Royals
The English native recognizes that Iceland has made tremendous efforts to grow soccer in their country. The women’s side went through a disappointing UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 but has since rebounded to recently defeat Germany.
For Gunny to experience that, the ups and downs, is what Harvey believes helps a player and a team. “You need someone who knows what it takes to win, but also how do they handle not being successful,” Harvey said.
Harvey also said that former players she coached, that are now in the Norwegian league, believed that “Gunny” would be a good fit for the Royals. Impressed by their advocacy, Harvey’s attention was drawn to the Iceland international.
On the Off-Season Work
“It’s been good to get my feet under the table here at the club. Just to see where we are as a team,” Harvey said.
She believes that even though they are the NWSL’s newest team, they have a good base of players that the Royals can build. The roster will have a few tweaks “to make this squad the best it can possibly be this year,” Harvey shared.
Harvey has encouraged her players to arrive in Utah as soon as they can to adjust and prepare.
The first training session will be in February with the season to begin in March. The Royals will have their home opener in April, and the anticipation is high.
You can watch the Laura Harvey interview in its entirety here.