2019 NWSL college draft preview: Utah Royals FC
The Utah Royals look on to season two. | Source: Real Salt Lake

2019 NWSL college draft preview: Utah Royals FC

The Royals don't have much draft capital to work with, but did they do enough with their draft picks?

aaron_bellamy
Aaron Bellamy

Utah Royals FC won't have much to do at the 2019 NWSL College Draft on Thursday. Upon entering the league abruptly before the 2018 season, URFC were awarded the first pick in the 2019 draft. For most of the year it seemed like Utah would be one of the major players in the draft, but then Christen Press became available and they pounced. The Royals gave up the first-overall pick, the seventh-overall pick, and Brooke Elby to land Press. With the draft coming up tomorrow, the Royals must be wondering if the addition of Press was worth giving up the opportunity to nab rising-star Tierna Davidson and a second first-round player to bolster their roster.

Few picks to bolster their roster

With both first-round selections relinquished, Utah is left with just the 23rd, 27th and 32nd picks in the draft. It's hard to know what players will be available at that point in the draft, but it's easy to know where the Royals need the most help in 2019. Their offense.

Utah Royals FC struggled all throughout the 2018 season with scoring goals. They ended the season in fifth-place in the standings, but they recorded fewer than one goal per game. Only Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit scored fewer goals than Utah last season. The addition of Christen Press did little good. She scored just two goals in her time with URFC, far behind Katie Stengel's team-leading six scores. It isn't particularly likely that Utah will find a stand-out striker at the tail end of the draft, but it would be shocking if they didn't make an attempt.

Christen Press was the big addition for Utah during the 2019 season. | Photo: Jamie Smed
Christen Press was the big addition for Utah during the 2019 season. | Photo: Jamie Smed

Things will get even more difficult for the Royals once the 2019 Women's World Cup rolls around. They will likely be missing at least seven players for the duration of the tournament. Defenders Rachel Corsie (Scotland), Katie Bowen (New Zealand), Kelley O'Hara (USA) and Becky Sauerbrunn (USA) are all expected to play for their respective national teams. From the midfield, Canadians Desiree Scott and Diana Matheson are expected to make the trip to France. Forward Christen Press (USA) and newly-added Verónica Boquete (Spain) will leave the front line shorthanded. 

Utah head coach Laura Harvey is known for valuing known players over draft picks, but with the prospect of a depleted roster the team has to feel uneasy going into the draft with so few picks. The Royals will be looking to build on their debut season, but they will have to do with while missing a large chunk of their projected starters for about half of the season.

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