NWSL expansion team Utah Royals have appointed two-time league winner and World Cup champion Amy Rodriguez as manager ahead of their debut season in 2024.
Rodriguez returns to familiar ground, after first joining the team in 2018 as a player. She went on to feature for three seasons, scoring 15 goals in over 51 matches and serving as captain before the club ceased operation.
But now, both the Royals and Rodriguez are back.
“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. 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,” Rodriguez said.
“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 comes in with collegiate coaching experience, after working as assistant coach at USC for the past two seasons. Though she admitted there will be a steep learning curve to navigate during her first head coach position, Rodriguez remains excited for the challenge.
“Anytime you step into a role that is above you, there’s definitely way more responsibility that comes with it. There’s an excitement [and] a potential to make something my own, and that gets me fired up,” she told ESPN.
“But I take it with a great amount of responsibility that I’m going to now step into, and I’m going to give it my very best. I think as a player, I always leaned on hard work, and I think similarly in this coaching role, I’ll do the exact same.”
The new coach is currently earning her U.S. Soccer A-level senior coaching license, after forming part of the first group of NWSL players to receive her B-level license.
Though coaching may be unfamiliar ground, the sport itself comes second nature given her wildly successful career. Rodriguez first debuted in 2011, playing for the Boston Breakers before going on to feature for FC Kansas City, the Royals, the Kansas City Current and the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL.
Overall, she recorded 64 goals in 102 appearances, inspiring two title-winning runs with Kansas City in 2014 and 2015.
Internationally, Rodriguez featured extensively for the U.S. women’s national team, recording 30 goals and 22 assists in 132 appearances. She also formed part of the 2015 World Cup-winning side, Olympic gold-medal winning teams in 2008 and 2012.