It's Good to be Queen
As the NWSL’s newest club begins operations, I’ve decided to roll out the red carpet and give you the royal treatment! Here are all of URFC’s roster moves made so far in preparation for the 2018 season. The Royals have now signed one amazing coach, 7 solid veterans, some with international experience, and two rookies who are ready to prove themselves. We’re about to have world class soccer being played in our backyard weekly, and good seats to each match are starting at $10 apiece. Now that's ballin' on a budget.
The Royals are replacing the recently folded FC Kansas City in the NWSL. FCKC ceased operations at the end of the 2017 season, and Dell Loy Hansen acted quickly, acquiring the rights to a new team. The decision was made in a matter of weeks, and it's been a big buzz during the winter months. This new team is definitely testament to Hansen's commitment to soccer in Utah, and I can't wait for the season to start. Let's check out the personnel URFC has so far.
The Coach: Her Royal Highness, Laura Harvey
Laura Harvey is one of the most decorated NWSL coaches in the league’s brief history, and one of the most well known and accomplished women’s coaches in the world. She started in the NWSL when she took the helm of Seattle Reign FC in 2013, having previously spent 4 years managing Arsenal W.F.C., 6 years managing different levels of England’s YWNT, and 6 years at Birmingham City, 4 as Assistant Manager and 2 as Full Manager.
During her four seasons with Seattle, Harvey amassed 51 wins, 33 losses and 26 draws, and holds the current record for winning percentage in the league. She led Seattle to two NWSL Shields (best regular season record), and two appearances in the NWSL Championship games, though they fell just short each time. Harvey also won NWSL Coach of the Year twice during her time with the team. She was intrigued, and jumped at the chance to be part of the growing soccer empire being built in the Salt Lake valley.
New Signed Players
Becky is arguably one of the best center backs in the world right now, and has anchored the USWNT back line since 2008. She has made 135 appearances for the USA, helping them win the Gold Medal in the 2012 Olympics and the World Cup in 2015. She has also won the NWSL Defender of the Year award three times since joining the NWSL in its inaugural season. Becky is 32, and has shown no sign of slowing down. My guess is she’ll also be captain of the newest NWSL team.
Kelley is another USWNT veteran to get excited about! It will be interesting to see what role she plays for the Royals, since she’s played multiple positions, including right back, right midfield, and winger. She’s appeared 104 times for the USWNT, mostly as a defender, but has played multiple roles on her club teams. Kelley’s made 112 professional appearances, and scored 29 goals. Regardless of where she lines up, Kelley will contribute in a big way.
Scott is another seasoned veteran with a wealth of experience. The 30 year old defensive midfielder has played in 89 games as a pro, and appeared 129 times for the Canadian Women’s National Team. She helped Canada win two bronze medals in the Olympic Games. Scott’s nickname is “The Destroyer”, because of her tough tackling play. She should slot in well with the strong spine the Royals have put together so far.
Gunnhildur “Gunny" Jónsdóttir
Gunny hails from Iceland, and comes to URFC from Vålerenga Fotball Damer, a club based in Oslo, Norway. The 29 year old central midfielder played most of her pro career so far in Scandinavia, but played a year of college soccer at Pepperdine University in California. She has made 155 appearances for various clubs, scoring 37 goals in the process, and 48 caps for the Icelandic National Team with 7 goals for her country. She should be a great veteran presence on the roster and in the center of the pitch.
Matheson is joining her Canadian teammate Scott in the Royals midfield. She predominantly plays in the center midfield in a similar position to Gunny. Matheson went to school at Princeton, where she played in 57 games and scored 26 goals. In her professional career, she has played in 99 games, and scored 34 goals. She has played for Canada 169 times and scored 16 goals. Matheson is 33, and will be an excellent mentor to the up and coming Royals players.
Taylor Lytle was signed by the Royals in December. She plays midfield, and previously made 82 appearances for Sky Blue FC, scoring 5 goals during that time. She was part of their inaugural team in 2013, and has spent her whole professional career up to this point playing there. Lytle played college soccer at Texas Tech, and earned Big Twelve Conference First Team Honors in 2009, and Second Team Honors in 2008 and 2011.
Mandy is one of the players previously on the FC Kansas City roster who the Royals were able to come to an agreement with. Mandy has previous pro experience, appearing 39 times for FCKC and scoring one goal in that time. She played college soccer for Notre Dame, and was on the 2010 National Championship team with the Fighting Irish. Mandy is listed as a midfielder, meaning we have a lot of players who will be fighting for a spot!
Erika is another player we acquired through FCKC rights, and last played for the NWSL club, but has been loaned to Bayern Munich and Merlbourne City during her career. Erika is comfortable playing midfield and forward, making her the first player signed who could potentially play up top. during her time at FCKC, she appeared 95 times and scored 18 goals, and helped them win two NWSL Championships. Erika went to the University of Florida, and played 95 games there, scoring 32 goals. She has also played for the USWNT 3 times, and scored once. With a lot of experience across the globe, she should transition well here in SLC.
Taylor Isom - 14th Pick
Taylor is a local girl who played soccer at Alta High School and BYU. She was selected 14th in the NWSL draft, and is the first draft pick by the Royals. Taylor has family here, and is very excited to play in her home state. Taylor plays defense, and anchored the BYU team in her four years in Provo. She broke a few team records while playing too, including the most shutouts, consecutive shutouts, and fewest goals allowed.
EJ Proctor - 34th Pick
EJ is a goalkeeper from Duke University, and earned all ACC First Team Honors as a senior. She owns the Duke record for shutouts with 35. She’s the first keeper on the Royals roster for the 2018 season, so it’s hard to tell what role she’ll be playing, but she’ll bring her A game come training camp to fight for the starting spot.
That's not even eleven players yet...
NWSL roster rules allow for 18-20 players, so we're still a bit short on that number, but it's a work in progress. The list of players below were all on FC Kansas City’s roster, and the Royals own their rights. These players can be signed or traded to help put the finishing touches on the first ever Royals squad. Most notable on the list is Sydney Leroux, USWNT Forward with World Cup experience. Leroux is married to newly minted USMNT striker Dom Dwyer, who was born in England but moved to the US to pursue his professional goals. We’re not sure if the couple plan to play together or apart, but Dwyer just signed a multi-year deal with Orlando City in MLS, which may mean Leroux will want to play closer to her husband in Florida. We’ll let you know as soon as more info is released.
No. Position Player Nation
3 Defender Becca Moros United States
5 Defender Alex Arlitt United States
6 Defender Katie Bowen New Zealand
8 Forward Amy Rodriguez United States
9 Midfielder Lo'eau LaBonta United States
13 Defender Brittany Taylor United States
14 Forward Sydney Leroux United States
17 Defender Sydney Miramontez United States
18 Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart United States
19 Goalkeeper Cat Parkhill United States
21 Midfielder Caroline Flynn United States
25 Forward Brittany Ratcliffe United States
44 Forward Maegan Kelly Canada
88 Midfielder Alexa Newfield United States
That’s it for roster news as of now, but as updates come, look for more posts.