The Utah Royals have appointed Amy Rodriguez as head coach to lead the expansion side in its inaugural 2024 seasonas first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle. The Royals are joining the National Women’s Soccer League after initially forming in late 2017 and folding three years later.
Rodriguez played for the previous rendition of the Royals for all three years it existed, serving as captain for part of that time. Rodriguez’s playing resume also boasts winning the 2015 World Cup with the US women’s national team as well as winning gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
The former player retired in 2021 and moved on to serve as an assistant coach for her alma mater, the University of Southern California, for the past two seasons. Rodriguez admitted in her interview with ESPN that she questioned her own deservedness of the role due to her lack of experience. She is currently in the process of earning her US Soccer A-level senior coaching license. Rodriguez earned her B-license through the 2021-22 course offered in conjunction by the NWSL, NWSL Players Association and US Soccer.
Rodriguez told ESPN that she thought of the advice she gives her own players, “sometimes in order to grow and to become the best version of yourself, you have to be uncomfortable. And this definitely makes me uncomfortable, but in the best way possible.”
Royals president Michelle Hyncik has a long history with Rodriguez. The two were teammates in high school and have kept in touch since. Rodriguez appeared in some of the marketing material when the Royals relaunched in early March.
“She obviously is one of the key former players that we have gone to since we closed this deal, her feedback on this announcement and using her voice,” Hyncik told The Equalizer at the time. “She is obviously a shining star in NWSL history, in women’s soccer history, and our history here in Utah. I grew up with her. I played at club levels with her and I’m a little bit older so I was her captain in high school.
“I can go on for a whole other hour about Amy, because I think she’s the hardest worker. She’s the rare combination when you have enormous athletic talent but you work just as hard as you have. I think a lot of times you’ll see one or the other, and she’s kind of just this total superstar.”
Rodriguez’s 39 goals is tied for 10th in NWSL history. She also played for three seasons in the now defunct Women’s Professional Soccer. In 2007, she led USC to its first NCAA national championship.
Jeff Kassouf contributed to this report.