The National Women’s Soccer League announced on Saturday that Utah Royals are set to return to the league next year as the latest expansion team. The Royals were a part of the NWSL from 2018 to 2020 and the return of the club to the NWSL will mark a new era of women’s soccer in the state of Utah.

Club owners David Blitzer and Ryan Smith were both delighted with the announcement claiming they were thrilled to fulfill the promise they had made to their incredible fan base.

Blitzer said, “When we acquired Real Salt Lake last year, we said it was a matter of when, not if, the NWSL would return to Utah. This has always been an integral part of our mission. We are grateful for the opportunity to use our resources and platform to take women’s soccer to the next level while inspiring future players and fans globally.”

Smith also claimed, “We are excited to expand the ‘One Utah’ family and bring the Royals back to Utah. Having professional women’s soccer back in the state has always been a top priority for David Blitzer and myself, and is very meaningful to us, the fans, our partners, and the entire state.”

Royals had been a top draw in first stint

The Royals will be returning to America’s First Credit Union field for their home games which will be shared along with Real Salt Lake. In their inaugural season in 2018, the Royals had a sell-out standing-only crowd of over 19,000. During their involvement in the NWSL over the three years, the club boasted of some of the brightest talents.

FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez, and Becky Sauerbrunn all played for the club. The club also had UEFA Women’s Championship winner Vero Boquete in their team as they averaged the second-highest attendance in the league with over 11,000 fans attending per game.

The Royals will be led by President Michelle Hyncik who had earlier worked with the MLS as a Senior Legal Counsel for five years. She has also served as Real Salt Lake’s General Counsel for the past three years.

Speaking on the latest developments, Hyncik said, “As someone who credits my entire livelihood to my home on the pitch, I will prioritize empowering our Utah Royals players, and the young girls and boys who look up to them, through providing state of the art facilities, resources, staff, engagement, and opportunities to achieve their full potential. I could not be prouder to be part of this community and the Utah Soccer family as we bring world-class women’s soccer to Utah in 2024.”

Photo Credit: Imago / Icon sportswire