Utah Royals FC names nation’s first former female player as coach

SANDY, Utah – The Utah Royals FC named World Cup champion, Olympic gold medalist, two-time NWSL champion, iconic USWNT forward and former Utah Royals FC captain Amy Rodriguez as its head coach on Thursday, to lead the club in its new era.

“Returning to Utah is a dream I never knew I had and it is with the utmost humility that I step into this role as your Club’s head coach,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “My time with the Royals is among the greatest years of my professional career. The Utah community fully embraced my family and made this state feel like home for not just myself, but my husband and kids as well. We were devastated to leave and I left feeling like there was still unfinished business on the table. I cannot put into words just how excited I am to get to work and bring Royalty back to this community.”

Rodriguez’s return to Utah as head coach makes her the first former American NWSL player in league history to lead the charge for a team in a head coaching capacity. Additionally, she is the first head coach to have won an NWSL championship as a player. Rodriguez is also only the second-ever World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist to lead an NWSL side, joining U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone.

As a player, Rodriguez spearheaded Utah Royals FC’s first iteration, serving as the club’s captain, during which she scored 15 goals in 51 games across three seasons (2018-20). During her time as Utah Royals Club captain, Rodriguez became an integral and beloved member of the Utah community, leading the team in her engagement through meal-packing and other charitable educational opportunities and championing initiatives such as the Special Olympics, and Kick Childhood Cancer. Rodriguez was honored as 2018 Utah Royals Humanitarian of the Year.

Throughout her entire professional career, Rodriguez scored 64 goals in 162 appearances, representing Utah Royals FC, North Carolina Courage, OL Reign, FC Kansas City and Kansas City Current. At the league level, Rodriguez racked up countless accolades, including back-to-back NWSL Championships with FC Kansas City, while earning both NWSL Best XI and NWSL Championship MVP honors.

Rodriguez’s extensive international career spanned 13 years with the United States, during which she helped the USA lift 13 trophies, including the FIFA Women’s World Cup and multiple Olympic gold medals. Rodriguez recorded 30 goals and 19 assists in 132 appearances for the United States. At the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Rodriguez provided the assist in the Final to win the USWNT a gold medal, going on to earn her second USWNT gold medal in London’s 2012 Olympic Games. In 2015, Rodriguez achieved the highest international soccer honor, helping the United States capture the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Vancouver with a scintillating 5-2 victory over the same Japan side that bested them in the prior World Cup finals.

Since retiring as a player from the NWSL at the end of the 2021 season, Rodriguez has served as an Assistant Coach for her alma mater, the University of Southern California. The Orange County native previously attended USC from 2005-08, leading the program to its first NCAA championship in 2007, while totaling 31 goals and adding 17 assists for the vaunted Trojans.

“Empowering women both on and off the field has been an underlying driving force throughout the journey of our Return of Royalty. The hiring of Head Coach Amy Rodriguez embodies this Utah Royals’ mission to advance women’s careers in our Utah community and beyond,” Michelle Hyncik, Utah Royals FC president, said in a statement. “Amy’s commitment to excellence, winning, community and family aligns with our Utah Royals’ creed and we are honored to have her at the helm to lead us into the next era.”

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