Royals FC coach Laura Harvey leaving Utah for job with U.S. Soccer

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Royals vs. Washington Spirit, soccer at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Saturday May 5, 2018. Royals coach Laura Harvey.

Laura Harvey sat in a chair during the final postgame press conference of the season last October and said, unequivocally, that she wouldn’t be the next coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team. Later, she walked back into the media room and told a small group of reporters that she planned to be back coaching the Utah Royals FC in 2020.

But Harvey’s plans changed.

Harvey is leaving the club to take a job with U.S. Soccer, The Salt Lake Tribune has confirmed. She was entering the final year of a three-year contract.

The Equalizer, a soccer website, first reported that Harvey is leaving Utah to take an undisclosed position with U.S. Soccer after two seasons leading Royals FC.

The Royals, through a spokesperson, declined comment.

Utah just missed the NWSL playoffs last season, finishing 10-10-4, despite having one of the more talented rosters in the league that included three USWNT players in Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press.

That followed a 9-8-7 finish in 2018, a year in which the Royals also just missed the postseason.

The 2019 finish left the club disappointed, with Royals general manager Stephanie Lee hinting at a possible shakeup for 2020.

“It’s really, really hard for me not to look at it as a failure and be disappointed,” Lee said at the time. “And in some regards, it is. I think my job at the moment is to look at everything — top-down, down-up, myself included — in what went wrong, what prevented us from being successful and how do we change that for next year.”

Despite missing the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, Harvey was integral in bringing top talent to Utah. She wanted Press, and the club made it happen in a three-team deal. She was also involved in getting Scottish national teamer Rachel Corsie — who was coached by Harvey in Seattle — to the Royals, as well as former Spanish national team player Vero Boquete.

Harvey coached the Seattle Reign for five seasons before taking the Royals job. During her time there, she became considered the winningest coach in the National Women’s Soccer League, boasting a record of 51-33-26 and winning the NWSL Shield in 2014 and 2015.

But Harvey went just 9-8-7 with the Reign in 2017 before stepping down from the job. The year before, she signed a four-year extension with Seattle through the 2020 season.

Harvey is a native of Warwickshire, England. She previously worked for U.S. Soccer as an interim coach for the women’s Under-23 team and also did a six-year stint with England’s national team.