HERRIMAN, Utah (Mon., Nov. 20, 2023) – *At the trade deadline, Utah Royals FC acquired two players – MF Emily Gray and MF Francesca “Frankie” Tagliaferri – from the North Carolina Courage in exchange for $30,000 in Allocation Money and expansion protection. The third transaction of the Club’s second era brings the current 2024 URFC roster to four players – including Mikayla Cluff and Kaleigh Riehl – ahead of this week’s free agency period and next month’s expansion draft.
“I’m extremely excited for everything this opportunity has to offer, to go somewhere new to test my abilities and play soccer with another amazing club, learning from new players & staff,” said Tagliaferri, whose 114 career NCAA games played at Penn State and Rutgers are the most ever by a Division I player. “I’ve seen and heard so many amazing things about the Utah Royals club, they’ve handled everything so awesomely, the facilities are top-notch and obviously Amy is amazing. Growing up, I watched her closely – she was a favorite player of mine, winning gold medals and playing in World Cups, displaying grit and determination and so much heart. Talking to her now, I can feel how excited she is to build this roster, to prepare us to be successful as we kick off new eras – individually and collectively – in Utah.”
The additions of Gray and Tagliaferri bring two South Jersey natives to the Wasatch Front, as Gray – a native of Sewell, N.J. and a former Virginia Tech star – joins Tagliaferri, from Colts Neck, N.J., who played her collegiate soccer at Rutgers as a senior after three years at Penn State, where she starred for the Nittany Lions alongside DF Kaleigh Riehl, who was also acquired by Utah at the trade deadline from San Diego Wave FC.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity to further my career with the Utah Royals,” said Gray, the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft, selected by North Carolina. “Obviously, (Utah Head Coach) Amy Rodriguez is a proven winner, and I’m looking forward to her leadership, to being coached by her and achieving great things at this Club. I cannot wait to arrive in Utah and get things started.”
Led by Head Coach Amy Rodriguez and Sporting Director Kelly Cousins, Utah Royals FC continues its roster build this week as NWSL Free Agency period now opens. URFC is set to return to the NWSL as a 2024 expansion side, along with Northern California’s Bay FC. The 2024 NWSL Expansion Draft, presented by Ally, is set to be held on Friday, Dec. 15, beginning at 5:00 p.m. MT, with Utah Royals FC currently slated to select No. 1 overall. Fans can watch LIVE on CBS Sports Network as the two expansion sides can select up to 12 players each, with additional coverage via CBS Sports Golazo and the “Attacking Third” show & social accounts.
“Both Kelly (Cousins, URFC Sporting Director) and myself are excited to welcome Emily and Frankie to the Club,” said Utah Head Coach Amy Rodriguez, amidst various transactions and impending free agency signings as part of the Club’s recruitment efforts. “I have no doubt that these players will put their blood, sweat and tears into this team. As we build Utah Royals FC from scratch, these are precisely the type of players that you want – ones that will bring not just talent but also a relentlessness to roll up their sleeves up and get to work.”
TRANSACTION: Utah Royals FC acquires MF Emily Gray and M/F Frankie Tagliaferri from North Caroliina Courage in exchange for $30,000 in Allocation Money and 2024 expansion protection from Utah Royals FC.