SANDY, Utah / CHICAGO (Friday, Nov. 17, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced today following the ceasing of operations for FC Kansas that the former members of the club have been assigned to the new Real Salt Lake club for the 2018 season. In addition, RSL will receive Kansas City’s picks in the 2018 NWSL College Draft (currently 4th and 14th overall) and their spot in the Discovery and Waiver Tie-Breaker, as well as the Distribution Ranking Order. The club will also be provided the No. 1 overall pick in the first round of the 2019 College Draft.
“We are sympathetic to the range of emotions experienced in recent days by this group of talented players. However, we know they will be excited about enhancing the soccer culture we are building for them here in Utah,” said Real Salt Lake GM Craig Waibel, a defender on the San Jose Earthquakes team which ended up in Houston 12 years ago. “As we evaluate this roster - in the midst of looking to hire a Head Coach - players know that they are the sole focus of our aspirations as we modify our world-class facilities to their needs, expand our club and deepen our roots in the community.”
As a precursor to this transfer, the NWSL re-acquired FC Kansas City LLC’s membership interest in the league and has ceased operations of the club, effective immediately. Due to the addition of the Real Salt Lake-owned side, announces yesterday, the NWSL remains at 10 teams for the 2018 season, the 24-game regular season.
“First, we’d like to recognize and thank Elam Baer and FC Kansas City LLC for their efforts this past year. We appreciate his commitment in helping the NWSL move forward,” said NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy. “As the league moves on, and as difficult as it is to share this news about FC Kansas City, we feel it is in the best interest of the league and the players at this time. Most importantly, we would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank all the fans and the city of Kansas City for their support of this club, the league and the sport over the past five years.”
Real Salt Lake fans will inherit an impressive roster featuring U.S. Women’s National Team players Becky Sauerbrunn, Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez – as well as Canada international Desiree Scott.
Sauerbrunn is the only player voted to the NWSL Best XI in all five seasons of the league’s existence – including in 2017 when she had a goal and two assists in 22 appearances while leading a defense that was tied for fourth in league.
Leroux scored a team-high six goals and added two assists in 23 games last season as she returned to the NWSL after giving birth to her first child. She finished the 2017 campaign tied for No. 13 on the all-time scoring list with 23 career goals.
Rodriguez has featured in just one game during the past two NWSL seasons due to the birth of her second child and most recently a knee injury, but she has left her mark on the league – scoring the game-winning goals in both the 2014 and 2015 NWSL Championships.
Scott is a two-time bronze medalist and who has been made an impact in the NWSL as a holding midfielder – racking up 55 career appearances, including 21 appearances last season.
In addition, the roster boasts forwards Shea Groom and Maegan Kelly – who each had five goals in 2017 – as well as goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart (38 career saves), defenders Brittany Taylor (2013 NWSL Best XI), Christina Gibbons (No. 5 overall selection in 2017 NWSL College Draft) and midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta (2 goals, 2 assists in 2017).
FC Kansas City was of one eight founding members of the NWSL and hosted Portland Thorns FC in the inaugural match in league history on April 13, 2013. The club reached the playoffs in each of the first three years of the league and became the first team to win back-to-back championships, topping Seattle Reign FC in the NWSL Championship Game in both 2014 and 2015.
Fans will now have the opportunity to witness a League featuring the brightest stars in women’s soccer – such as Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe, all of whom helped lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to an unprecedented third World Cup title in 2015. In addition, the league also boasts Canada internationals – and reigning Olympic bronze medalists – Christine Sinclair, Allysha Chapman, Desiree Scott and Shelina Zadorsky as well as international stars such as Brazil legend Marta, Wales dynamo Jess Fishlock and Australia sharpshooter Samantha Kerr.
RSL will participate in the NWSL for what will be an historic sixth season. During this past 2017 season, the NWSL celebrated the 500th game in league history – more than the combined total of the two previous women’s leagues – as it continued to push women’s professional soccer to new heights as the best league in the world.
Portland Thorns FC capped off the league’s fifth campaign with a 1-0 victory in October over the North Carolina Courage in the 2017 NWSL Championship Game, as the Thorns joined FC Kansas City as the only two clubs to win the league title on multiple occasions. The Western New York Flash is the only other team to lift the NWSL Championship trophy (2016).
The 2018 season will once again feature widespread national television coverage, as the NWSL Game of the Week appears via Lifetime every Saturday during the regular season, while livestreams of non-National NWSL matches are available on the go90 app and on the league's website. International fans will also be able to continue to watch games on the new NWSL app and a revamped NWSLsoccer.com – both of which will strengthened with additional features and improvements for 2018.
For more information on the Real Salt Lake entry into NWSL, visit www.RSL.com/NWSL or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is a ten-team Division-I women’s professional soccer league featuring national team players from around the world. The clubs are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit and now, as of last Thursday, a Real Salt Lake side in Utah.
Based in Chicago, the NWSL is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation. For more information about the NWSL, log on to the league’s official website at www.NWSLsoccer.com.
The NWSL previously added new teams to the league on two occasions – with the Houston Dash becoming the league’s first expansion club in 2014, followed by the Orlando Pride in 2016. The North Carolina Courage were also welcomed into the fold in 2017 following the acquisition and relocation of the Western New York Flash to the Tar Heel State.
About REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake recently concluded off its 13th Major League Soccer season in 2017. The club’s MLS Cup 2009 victory marked the state of Utah’s only major professional championship in nearly 40 years, the title preceding an historic run to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final. Buoyed by a passionate base now approaching 14,000+ season ticket holders, RSL has enjoyed a prominent home-field advantage since building its permanent Rio Tinto Stadium home in Sandy.
In 2015, the club expanded its development pyramid with the addition of Real Monarchs, one of several MLS-operated clubs playing in the USL, the United States’ Division II setup. The RSL Foundation was established in 2016, created with the goals of being active in the community year-round, utilizing the popularity and reach of RSL and the Monarchs in promoting health and wellness in children throughout the region, engaging supporters of soccer to raise funds and volunteer time for various local initiatives.
Lastly, in 2017, Owner Dell Loy Hansen opened the Zions Bank Real Academy – a world-class training facility that will host teams at all levels of the pyramid, from Major League Soccer to USL and U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-19 and U-17 sides. In early December, Hansen and RSL will celebrate the ribbon-cutting of a new North Logan facility, the first of a half-dozen regional training centers aimed at providing opportunity and instruction for children ages 7-14. Each facility will house an indoor field, an outdoor field and a classroom, with a curriculum for player, coaching and referee education.