SANDY — The Utah Royals roster continues to take shape as the club traded for Sky Blue FC forward Kelley O’Hara and midfielder Taylor Lytle.
The trade sent forward Shea Groom, defender Christina Gibbons and the fourth overall pick in the Jan. 18 NWSL draft to the New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC.
O’Hara is a former Stanford All-American (2009) where she earned the NCAA’s top player award, The Hermann Trophy, after leading the Cardinal to back-to-back College Cup appearances. She’s been a member of U.S. National teams since 2004 when she played on the U-16 team. She joined the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2010, and she is one of three national team players, along with goalie Hope Solo and captain Christie Rampone, who played every minute for the U.S. in the Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016.
She scored her first international goal for the U.S. during the team’s 2-0 semifinal win over Germany in 2015. Her second goal came against Puerto Rico in the 2016 Olympic qualifier.
“I am excited to start a new adventure playing for an organization that is invested in building a championship club within the NWSL,” said O’Hara in a press release Friday afternoon. “In my time with the USWNT, playing in Salt Lake has always been a top-notch experience with amazing facilities and a dedicated fan base. I grew up coming to Utah as a kid and I’m looking forward to calling the mountains home.”
As a college player, she earned 57 goals, 32 assists in 87 games and set new school records. She was the No. 3 overall pick when she was chosen by the FC Gold Pride in the Women’s Professional Soccer league in 2010.
Also included in the deal is the Royals first midfielder Taylor Lytle and the 25th overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft.
“With the acquisition of Kelley and Taylor, we have brought in two huge assets for our club,” Royals FC head coach Laura Harvey said in the press release. “Kelley is a proven International player, who has been a standout player for both the USWNT and the NWSL over recent years. Her talent, work ethic and winning mentality is something I think will be infectious throughout the team. Kelley is the prime of her career and I feel coming to Utah is a great move for both her and the Royals.”
She went on to praise Lytle for being one of those players a coach hates to face. Lytle, 28, is from Las Cruces, New Mexico, and enjoyed an impressive collegiate career at Texas Tech University. She was an All-Big 12 player three times and finished as the school’s all-time career assist leader with 27.
“In Taylor, we have a player who has been a stalwart for Sky Blue over five seasons,” Harvey said. “Whenever I would coach against her, she would always cause my team problems, so I’m now very glad that we are on the same team. She is a player I have admired for a while now, and we expect that bringing in someone like Taylor who has such a great attitude for the game will only enhance our roster.”
Lytle and O’Hara join USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn, who signed with the Royals last week.