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Laura Harvey leaves Utah Royals FC to become head coach of United States U-20 team

Scott Parkinson named interim head coach

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Utah Royals FC coach Laura Harvey watches the game in Sandy on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

Utah Royals FC coach Laura Harvey watches the game in Sandy on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Last Friday, The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta reported that Utah Royals FC head coach Laura Harvey was set to leave the team for a position with the United States Soccer Federation.

On Monday morning, that became official as she was formally named head coach of the organization’s U-20 team. Simultaneously, URFC announced that assistant coach Scott Parkinson has been named interim head coach “while the club conducts a formal search for its next head coach.”

“Coaching internationally was the only job that would have interested me moving away from this role at Utah Royals FC,” Harvey said in a statement released by the club. “I’ve been wanting to get back into coaching international football, so I’m looking forward to the new challenge with the U-20 United States Youth National Team.”

Last fall, the 39-year-old from England was a finalist for the United States Women’s National Team head coaching job before it went to her National Women’s Soccer League rival Vlatko Andonovski.

In two seasons as URFC’s first head coach in franchise history, Harvey compiled a record of 19-17-12, narrowly missing the playoffs both seasons. In seven seasons in the NWSL (her first five were as the head coach of Washington-based Reign FC), she had a record of 72-52-38 and had championship appearances in 2014 and 2015.

She was named the league’s Coach of the Year both seasons.

Over the last two seasons, URFC has been one of the best defensive teams in the league, but its struggles to score goals has largely been its undoing, even with numerous weapons up top.

“When we launched Utah Royals FC, we set out to make the club a destination for top talent around the world and there was no better way to do that than to bring in one of the top professional coaches,” URFC owner Dell Loy Hansen said in a statement. “Laura brought instant credibility to Royals FC and it’s been a pleasure working with her. We wish her the best of luck with U.S. Soccer and look forward to seeing top young talent in the U.S. develop under her tutelage.”

Parkinson wasn’t quoted in URFC’s announcement, but wrote a heartfelt message on Twitter to Harvey, whom he called his “best friend.”

“You have been nothing short of amazing to me,” he wrote. “You’ve given me the opportunity to prove myself at the highest level and taken care of me along the way. It’s been tough to digest that you’re leaving our club & you’ll take a little piece of my heart with you...Good luck my mate! Nothing but love here. USSF you got a special one, take good care of her.”

Moving forward, the NWSL College Draft is on Jan. 16. The start date for the season has not yet been announced, but it will likely be sometime between late March and early April. It is unclear how quickly URFC intends to move in its search for a permanent head coach.

Monday was a busy day for URFC, as reserve forward Erika Tymrak announced her retirement via Twitter and the club announced that it has signed defender Taylor Leach, an American who most recently played in Sweden.