The Utah Royals relieved head coach Amy Rodriguez of her duties, the team announced Sunday.

In addition to Rodriguez, the team is moving on from goalkeeper coach Maryse Bard-Martel and team president Michelle Hyncik, who “will begin transitioning to a new opportunity” with Blitzer Family Office (David Blitzer is part owner of the team), per the Royals.

Assistant coach Jimmy Coenraets will serve as interim head coach, and Real Salt Lake president John Kimball will take over Hyncik’s duties while the team searches for a new president.

Kimball thanked Rodriguez, Hyncik and Bard-Martel in the team’s statement on the reorganization.

“Our club and ownership group are committed to delivering a product our fans will be proud of,” he said. “While we have faced adversity this season, we are focused on building a team off and on the field that can compete at the highest levels for years to come.”

While the Royals sit in last place in the NWSL standings with just two wins, the midseason firing still came as a surprise. It came a day after one of the team’s best games of the season — a scoreless draw against the 2022 league champion Portland Thorns.

Rodriguez, who played for the Royals in their first iteration before moving to Kansas City, was tasked with turning a brand new team built from scratch into a winning one.

The first iteration of the team inherited the contracts and players’ rights of FC Kansas City, while this season’s roster started with zero players and was assembled through trades, free agency and this year’s NWSL draft.

The timing of the news could be linked to a head coach suddenly becoming available. Last week, the San Diego Wave fired Casey Stoney after a seven-game winless streak.

Stoney had just signed a contract extension in January. In 2022, she led the Wave to the playoffs in their first season, and as a result Stoney was named NWSL Coach of the Year.

Under Stoney, the Wave have had double-digit-win seasons the last two years (the club is only in its third season). San Diego finished with the best record in the league last season, winning the NWSL Shield, but fell short of winning the championship after losing in the semifinals.

Stoney has a connection to the Royals. Both Stoney and current Royals sporting director Kelly Cousins coached in the Women’s Championship and Women’s Super League in England, Stoney for Manchester United Women and Cousins for Reading FC.

Cousins mentioned her connection to Stoney when the Deseret News asked her in March if the Wave’s quick rise to success gave her and the Royals organization hope for the team’s success.

“Definitely. Obviously I know Casey very well from back home,” Cousins said. “She knows her style of play. She knows what players suit that. We’re doing the same process,” she said.

Landing Stoney would be a huge win for a young Royals team and is likely the only sure upgrade from Rodriguez, a FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

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Who will the Utah Royals hire to replace Amy Rodriguez?

If the Royals show significant improvement under Coenraets, the team could look to keep him and remove the interim tag from his title.

Another option close to home could be Amy LePeilbet, who is the head coach at Salt Lake Community College. LePeilbet was an assistant coach and director of professional development for the Royals from 2018-20 before briefly serving as interim head coach in 2020.

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She led the Bruins to a 16-3 record last season. LePeilbet has national team experience, too, having played in both the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2012 Olympics, where the U.S. won a gold medal.

This last option is likely more of a longshot. The Royals could attempt to lure Jennifer Rockwood away from BYU. Rockwood has a 435-126-54 record and a .751 win percentage at BYU and is a four-time WCC Coach of the Year, per the university.

A move to the Royals would allow her to stay in Utah and reunite her with several of her former players who currently play for the Royals, including two of this year’s draft picks, Brecken Mozingo and Olivia Griffitts.

But Rockwood has spent the entirety of her nearly three-decade coaching career at BYU, making it unlikely that she’d leave, and with the short leash Rodriguez was given, Rockwood would likely be giving up her current job security.

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