It has been exactly three months since Real Salt Lake announced a deal with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) to bring women’s professional soccer to Utah, something that RSL ownership hoped to do in the future. The reality came much sooner as one of the league’s original clubs FC Kansas City folded, and the NWSL raced to replace the club. Thankfully for the NWSL, Utah, and women’s professional soccer, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen was ready to commit.
With the RSL-based club entering the league, RSL received FC Kansas City’s players’ rights, meaning that the roster from KC would be playing in Utah, in theory. Laura Harvey was then hired as the club’s head coach, and she would be responsible for putting a roster together. As the new NWSL team was finally given a name, Utah Royals FC, Harvey also began to build the roster, either via trades or signings.
Harvey’s intent was not to make wholesale changes, but instead, she aimed to build a base of players and go from there.
The first to announce her commitment to the new club was Becky Sauerbrunn, a key player in KC and with the U.S. National Team, becoming the first player from the KC roster to sign with the Royals. Sauerbrunn is a World Cup Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, an NWSL Champion (twice), and a three-time NWSL Defender of the Year.
Just this week, Desiree Scott became the second player from the KC roster to sign with the club. Like Sauerbrunn, Scott brings an extensive professional and international experience as a member of Canada’s National Team. She’s a dominant presence in the midfield, earning the nickname “The Destroyer.” Scott is a two-time Olympic Bronze Medalist.
A Massive Trade & An International Signing
On their first trade as a club, the Royals acquired U.S. National Team member Kelley O’Hara, NWSL veteran Taylor Lytle, and the 25th draft pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft from the New Jersey-based club, Sky Blue FC. The trade sent forward Shea Groom, defender/midfielder Christina Gibbons, and the 4th overall draft pick to New Jersey.
Days following the trade, the club announced their first international signing. Harvey is known for recruiting international players and adding Iceland international midfielder Gunnhildur “Gunny” Jónsdóttir strengthened the roster. The 29-year-old midfielder is one of Iceland’s top goal scorers.
Five players obviously do not make a roster. Each team is allowed 18-20 players, so the Royals still have plenty of spots to determine. There still has not been an official announcement as to which players from KC, besides Scott and Sauerbrunn, will continue their careers in Utah.
However, the following list of players were under contract with FCKC, and they can be expected to be a part of the Royals’ roster, barring any trades or retirements:
1. Mandy Laddish (Midfielder)
2. Amy Rodriguez* (Forward/U.S. National Team Player)
3. Yael Averbuch (Defender/Midfielder)
4. Sydney Leroux* (Forward/U.S. National Team Player)
5. Caroline Flynn (Midfielder)
6. Sydney Miramontez (Defender)
7. Brittany Ratcliffe (Forward)
8. Meagan Kelly (Forward)
Before ceasing operations, KC extended contract offers to defenders Alex Arlitt, Becca Moros, and Brittany (Taylor) Kolmel. Midfielders Katie Bowen, Lo’eau LaBonta, Alexa Newfield, and Erika Tymrak, as well as goalkeepers Nicole Barnhart and Cat Parkhill, who were also offered contract extensions. The status of these contracts is unknown.
There’s also the 2018 NWSL College Draft on Thursday, January 18 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Harvey will look to add new, young talent to the roster, potentially focusing more on goalkeepers and attacking players. The Royals have just three picks in this year’s draft: 14th (Round 2), 25th (Round 3), and 34th (Round 4).
The NWSL season kicks off March 24th. Preseason begins February 19th. We can expect more roster news in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.