SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – Utah Royals FC, Utah’s professional women’s soccer team, will have a familiar face leading the charge as Head Coach. Announced by the club on Thursday, former Utah Royals captain Amy Rodriguez will be making her return to the Beehive State.

Rodriguez came to Utah as a player during the first era of the Royals in 2018. She played three seasons, scoring 15 goals over 51 matches. She became a fan favorite within the club and she said she feels right at home in Utah.

“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,” said Rodriguez. “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’s time in Utah came to an abrupt end in 2020, after the former owner, Dell Loy Hansen, was forced to sell the club after allegations of racist comments and being “touchy.” The Royals moved to Kansas City, but Utah was promised a spot back in the National Women’s Soccer League under new ownership in 2023.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Now owned by David Blitzer and Ryan Smith, Real Salt Lake announced Utah Royals FC would be returning to play in 2024.

“We were devastated to leave and I left feeling like there was still unfinished business on the table,” continued Rodriguez. “I cannot put into words just how excited I am to get to work and bring Royalty back to this community.”

Rodriguez has had a decorated career as a player. She has won World Cups, Olympic Gold, league championships, and has become an icon in the game. After retiring at the end of the 2021 season, Rodriguez made the step into coaching, starting as an assistant for the University of Southern California. She helped guide USC to a winning record of 13 wins, three losses, and three draws.

Her move into the Head Coach position for Utah Royals makes her the first American NWSL player in league history to take on a head coaching role within the league.

“Empowering women both on and off the field has been an underlying driving force throughout the journey of our Return of Royalty. The hiring of Head Coach Amy Rodriguez embodies this Utah Royals’ mission to advance women’s careers in our Utah community and beyond,” said Utah Royals FC President Michelle Hyncik. “Amy’s commitment to excellence, winning, community and family aligns with our Utah Royals’ creed and we are honored to have her at the helm to lead us into the next era.”

The Utah Royals are set to return to play at America First Field in Sandy in spring 2024.