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USWNT veteran Kelley O’Hara traded by Utah Royals FC to Washington Spirit

Utah Royals FC defender Kelley O’Hara (5) prepares for a corner kick as the Utah Royals host the Portland Thorns at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, April 28, 2018.
Utah Royals FC defender Kelley O’Hara (5) prepares for a corner kick as the Utah Royals host the Portland Thorns at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, April 28, 2018.
Adam Fondren, Deseret News

And then there were none.

Utah Royals FC on Wednesday afternoon announced that it has traded United States Women’s National Team veteran Kelley O’Hara to the Washington Spirit in exchange for $75,000 in allocation money and a first-round draft pick in 2022, meaning URFC now has no USWNT players on its roster after starting 2020 with O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn and Christen Press.

The Washington Post’s Steven Goff was first to report the deal. According to Goff, URFC will only get the draft pick if O’Hara plays in at least half of Washington’s games in 2021.

If O’Hara’s recent history is any indication, that’s by no means a guarantee. Although she carried name recognition, she wound up playing in a measly 12 matches over three years for URFC.

“As I move on to the next chapter in my NWSL career I want to thank the Utah Royals organization for providing a top class professional experience,” O’Hara said in a statement. “To the fans, I know that my time on the field in Utah did not meet a lot of people’s expectations, including my own.

“Please know that I gave all I had to the Royals during my three years and to those that stuck by me and the team through the good and the bad, I am forever grateful. And lastly, to my teammates, I am so very thankful for each and every one of you. I will cherish the bonds we built on and off the field. I wish all of you the best!”

Goff had reported back in August that O’Hara wanted to play in her home city of Washington, D.C., but the two teams could not come to an agreement. URFC ultimately capitulated in granting O’Hara her wish for much less than equal to her value.

In the last few weeks alone, URFC has lost Press (the club left her unprotected in the recent National Women’s Soccer League expansion draft and she was selected by Racing Louisville FC) and O’Hara for a grand total of $150,000 in allocation money and one potential draft pick. In March, Sauerbrunn wanted to play in Portland and was sent there for Elizabeth Ball and $100,000 in allocation money.

The latest transaction comes as there is uncertainty about whether or not URFC will even play in Utah in 2021, as The Athletic’s Meg Linehan recently reported that a group is interested in buying the franchise and bringing it back to Kansas City, where it was before being relocated to the Beehive State three years ago.

Even if URFC stays in Utah, the club still needs a new permanent head coach, and the roster is very much in rebuild mode without many mechanisms to do that, including the fact it currently owns no first round picks in the 2021 NWSL draft, which is scheduled for Jan. 13.