The newly relaunched Utah Royals appointed Amy Rodriguez as head coach. With much anticipation, the expansion team will begin its new NWSL run during the 2024 season. It will be one of two clubs to join the league next year—raising the number of total NWSL teams to 14.
An illustrious career
Rodriguez is a name NWSL fans will remember. With her long list of accolades, she is no stranger to women’s soccer.
She played for the Royals from 2018 to 2020, during the initial stages of the club’s existence. West Coast FC, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence, FC Kansas City, and a short stint at NC Courage in 2021 made up her club career.Embed from Getty Images
Rodriguez also earned 132 caps with the USWNT from 2005 through 2018. During that time, she participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics. She also experienced call-ups for the Women’s World Cup squads in 2011 and 2015.
During her retirement in 2022, Rodriguez received her B License for coaching. That allowed her to return to her alma mater, the University of Southern California, as the assistant coach for the USC Trojans women’s soccer team.
Ushering the Royals into a new era
The Utah Royals’ new slogan (“Return of Royalty”) perfectly characterizes the importance of the club’s relaunch. Yes, the team is already called the Royals. But the stakes are higher than ever, as the expansion club hopes to make a difference on and off the field.
Soccer roots are deep in the Salt Lake metropolitan area, and the Utah Royals’ return was highly anticipated for some time. When the Royals fizzled out in 2020, the club’s assets moved to the Kansas City Current. But Real Salt Lake, the area’s MLS team, continued.
Between management and ownership changes, the Utah Royals name has remained one of honor. Now, the team can take its rightful throne under new management. Club owners include Ryan Smith, David Blitzer, and President Michelle Hyncik—all bringing a clean slate to the Royals franchise.
What Rodriguez brings to the Royals
When the club unveiled Rodriguez as head coach, she was asked about her return. She answered that it was a huge honor and privilege to be back in the league and that her new role was something she didn’t expect.
She boasted that this club was one of her most memorable and favorite teams to play for.Embed from Getty Images
In terms of coaching, there is a specific lens that one has to view the game that takes time to adjust to. It’s not the same as viewing the sport from a player’s eyes. This was one area Rodriguez stated that she has been working on and obsessing over for the last few years.
“As a player, I always fell back on hard work and humility. This is what I want to instill in my players and challenge them to be the best version of themselves.”
This culture will spill not only out onto the field but also into the community. Rodriguez stated that she loved the atmosphere of acceptance the community brought and hopes to continue that trend as the 2024 season approaches.
As a new era begins, fans are ready to see what lies ahead for the Utah Royals and look forward to what this club can do from the ground up.