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Utah Royals hire former USWNT star Amy Rodriguez as coach

Former Utah Royals captain Amy Rodriguez will serve as the new coach of the resurrected franchise in 2024. (Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Utah Royals have their head coach.

The resurrected club, which will return to the NWSL as an expansion franchise in 2024, named Amy Rodriguez as head coach as the Royals embark on a new era.

Rodriguez is a two-time NWSL champion and former U.S. women’s national team star forward who won a World Cup and Olympic gold medal at the international level. She is also a former captain of the Royals.

“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,” Rodriguez said. “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.

“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.”

The news was first reported Wednesday by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle. In a phone interview, Rodriguez told Carlisle she had “butterflies” in her stomach the moment she heard the Royals organization on the phone.

It will be Rodriguez’s first jaunt as a head coach, and first as a coach to professional players. She has spent the last year as an assistant coach for the USC Trojans, her alma mater.

“Anytime you step into a role that is above you, there’s definitely way more responsibility that comes with it,” she told ESPN. “There’s an excitement [and] a potential to make something my own, and that gets me fired up.

“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.”