SANDY, Utah (Friday, December 29, 2017) – Utah Royals FC have acquired another U.S. Women’s National Team star, trading for acclaimed FW Kelley O’Hara from Sky Blue FC, General Manager Craig Waibel and Head Coach Laura Harvey announced today. O’Hara’s arrival to Utah brings a wealth of versatility and experience to Utah for the club’s inaugural 2018 season, as the 2009 NCAA Hermann Trophy winner from Stanford University has played significant roles for her country in each of the last two World Cup and Olympic cycles.
The Utah side – which secured a commitment from USWNT Captain Becky Sauerbrunn last Thursday – also received MF Taylor Lytle and the 25th overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft in the O’Hara transaction from New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC, in exchange for FW Shea Groom, DF Christina Gibbons and the fourth overall pick in the January 18 selection of players entering the league.
“I am excited to start a new adventure playing for an organization that is invested in building a championship club within the NWSL,” said O’Hara, who scored her first-ever international goal against Germany in the United States’ 2015 World Cup Semifinal victory. “In my time with the USWNT, playing in Salt Lake has always been a top-notch experience with amazing facilities and a dedicated fan base. I grew up coming to Utah as a kid and I'm looking forward to calling the mountains home.”
O’Hara – owner of 102 caps and two career goals with the United States Women’s National Team – moves to Utah from Sky Blue FC, for whom the versatile player scored 15 goals in 75 games over the last five NWSL seasons. The Peachtree City, Georgia native is a FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015, USA) as well as an Olympic gold medalist (2012, USA), where O’Hara distinguished herself as one of three U.S. players to have played every minute of the 2012 London Olympics (GK Hope Solo, Captain Christie Rampone).
“With the acquisition of Kelley and Taylor, we have brought in two huge assets for our club,” Royals FC Head Coach Laura Harvey said. “Kelley is a proven International player, who has been a standout player for both the USWNT and the NWSL over recent years. Her talent, work ethic and winning mentality is something I think will be infectious throughout the team. Kelley is the prime of her career and I feel coming to Utah is a great move for both her and the Royals.”
“In Taylor, we have a player who has been a stalwart for Sky Blue over five seasons; whenever I would coach against her, she would always cause my team problems, so I’m now very glad that we are on the same team. She is a player I have admired for a while now, and we expect that bringing in someone like Taylor who has such a great attitude for the game will only enhance our roster.”
“I would like to wish Shea and Christina all the best in the future and I want to thank them for everything they have done for FC Kansas City and this league. It’s always hard to lose talented players.”
On the strength of 26 goals and 13 assists as a senior in 2009 at Stanford University, O’Hara was recognized as the NCAA’s top player, receiving the vaunted Hermann Trophy after leading the Cardinal to back-to-back College Cup appearances. O’Hara’s career college numbers of 57 goals and 32 assists in 87 games set new standards for the burgeoning power. Drafted No. 3 overall by FC Gold Pride of the WPS in 2010, O’Hara scored six goals in 18 games as a rookie, helping her team to capture both the regular-season shield and WPS title.
”Very exciting moves as we continue strengthening our roster in advance of their preseason by obtaining highly talented players like Kelley and Taylor,” said Waibel, who oversees both the Royals FC and Real Salt Lake technical staffs. “We look to properly balance the roster in the coming months in order to align with the attacking-oriented combination- and possession-based style Laura wants to play.”
Lytle, a 28-year old midfielder from Las Cruces, New Mexico, kicked off her professional career in 2013 with Sky Blue FC after a standout four-year college career at Texas Tech University. With the Red Raiders, Lytle served as team captain in 2010/11 and finished her tenure as the school’s all-time career assist leader, with 27. Lytle was honored with an All-Big 12 first-team selection as a sophomore in 2009, and earned All-Big 12 second-team selections following her 2008 freshman and 2011 senior campaigns.
Player: Kelley O’Hara
Date of Birth: August 4, 1988
Hometown: Fayetteville, GA
Previous Club: Sky Blue FC
How acquired: via trade (along with Taylor Lytle + No. 25 overall pick in 2018 NWSL Draft) in exchange for FW Shea Groom, DF Christina Gibbons and No. 4 overall pick in 2018 NWSL Drat
Player: Taylor Lytle
Date of Birth: March 31, 1989
Hometown: Las Cruces, NM
Previous Club: Sky Blue FC
How acquired: via trade (along with Kelley O’Hara + No. 25 overall pick in 2018 NWSL Draft) in exchange for FW Shea Groom, DF Christina Gibbons and No. 4 overall pick in 2018 NWSL Drat
Season tickets for the 2018 Utah Royals FC season are now on sale viawww.RSL.com/NWSL or 844.Real.Tix, while the full 2018 NWSL slate is expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.