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The Utah Royals FC is an American women’s professional soccer club located in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The team was established on November 16, 2017, as an expansion club in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and competed from 2018 to 2020.
In December 2020, the NWSL announced that the Utah Royals would cease operations and transfer their player-related assets to the expansion team in Kansas City, which is now known as the Kansas City Current. However, the new owners of Utah Soccer LLC, David Blitzer and Ryan Smith, acquired the team from Dell Loy Hansen and exercised the option to bring back the club. In March 2023, it was confirmed that the Utah Royals FC would return to the NWSL in 2024.
The decision to establish a team in Utah was based on the strong interest in men’s soccer in the state and the high participation rates of girls’ high school soccer players recruited by Division I colleges. Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer acquired the franchise and announced the hiring of Laura Harvey, former coach of Seattle Reign FC, as the inaugural head coach on November 27, 2017.
The team’s inaugural season in 2018 saw Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir score the first goal in franchise history. The club enjoyed strong support from fans, with 19,203 attending their first home match against the Chicago Red Stars. The team’s colors are "Claret Red," "Cobalt Blue," and "Victory Gold," represented in their badge, which features a gold Lioness head and stylized balls symbolizing the connection to the organization’s MLS and United Soccer League teams.
The Utah Royals FC secured sponsorships to support the team. Conservice, a utility company based in Logan, Utah, signed a three-year multimillion-dollar deal in February 2018 and had its logo featured on the front of the team’s jerseys. In April 2019, the team announced a multi-year partnership with Young Living Essential Oils, which included an original video series called ‘Rise up to Royalty’ profiling URFC players’ personal lives.
The team plays their home matches at America First Field, formerly known as Rio Tinto Stadium, located in Sandy, Utah. The soccer-specific stadium, shared with the men’s team Real Salt Lake, has a seating capacity of 20,213 for soccer matches and features Kentucky Bluegrass on the pitch.
The Utah Royals FC’s current squad is not available as of March 2023. However, the team’s head coach is Amy Rodriguez, a former United States women’s national soccer team player. The team has had several head coaches since its establishment, including Laura Harvey, Scott Parkinson (interim), Craig Harrington, and Amy LePeilbet (interim).
In terms of broadcasting, the Utah Royals FC had their matches broadcast locally in 2018, with the exception of the NWSL Game of the Week appearances on Lifetime. The matches were aired on KMYU My Utah TV and streamed on the KSL app. KALL ESPN 700 provided radio coverage for most Royals games. However, in August 2018, it was announced that the team’s games would no longer be broadcast on television or radio but would continue to be streamed on the KSL website and app.
Overall, the Utah Royals FC had a brief but notable presence in the NWSL before ceasing operations. With new ownership and the decision to bring back the club in 2024, fans can look forward to the team’s return and their continued contribution to women’s professional soccer in the United States.