Utah Royals make three selections in NWSL College Draft

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Royals FC hosts Washington Spirit, NWSL soccer at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Wed. Aug. 8, 2018. The Royals gather following their 1-0 win.

The Utah Royals picked three players in Thursday’s NWSL College Draft.

In order from highest to lowest, the Royals drafted Michelle Maemone, Madeline Nolf and Alexandra Kimball.

“We actually got the players we planned on getting," Real Salt Lake and Royals general manager Craig Waibel told the Salt Lake Tribune via telephone. “We had a good idea which players were gonna go ahead in the draft, we scouted accordingly and we got the players we wanted. So we’re very happy about it.”

Maemone was selected 23rd overall. She played at Pepperdine University and was listed as a defender/forward. In four years, she appeared in 78 games and started 69. She tallied three goals and four assists.

“I am so excited for this journey and I cannot wait to get there and get after it with my new teammates,” Maemone said in a news release.

The Royals used their 27th pick on Nolf, an alumna of Penn State University. Nolf earned a nod to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2014. In 2016, she played for the United States Under-20 Women’s National Team at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Nolf started 77 games for Penn State in four seasons.

“I feel really blessed and I am so grateful to be picked by Utah,” Nolf said. “I just want the opportunity to train with the best and learn from the coaching staff, especially in Utah.”

Alexandra Kimball, a Salt Lake City native, was picked 32nd overall by the Royals. Kimball served as a practice player for the Royals last season, and played for the University of North Carolina for four seasons.

At UNC, Kimball played in 92 games, starting 13. She scored nine goals and contributed seven assists. She took a medical redshirt season in 2017 due to a hip injury.

“Getting back to Utah with the opportunity to play in front of my family, has always been a dream of mine," Kimball said. "I am just excited to get to work, improve my game and hopefully be a piece for Laura (Harvey) to use this season coming up.”

The Chicago Red Stars picked Tierna Davidson No. 1 overall. The Royals traded their 2019 No. 1 pick to Chicago for the rights to U.S. forward Christen Press.

NWSL increases salary cap, maximum salary, expands roster numbers

Moments before the start of the draft, the league announced that it increased the salary cap to $421,500 for each team. In addition, the minimum and maximum salary figures will jump to $16,538 and $46,200, respectively.

Teams in the NWSL will also have the opportunity to add more players to their rosters. The new minimum for senior rosters will increase to 20, while the maximum will increase to 22. The league also added four new supplemental roster spots, which will not count against a team’s cap.

Royals add summer semi-pro team

The Royals announced this week that it will join the Women’s Premier Soccer League and add a new team, the Utah Royals FC Reserves, for the 2019 season.

The reserves team is geared toward the development of college players or drafted players in a semi-professional soccer environment.

“We are extremely excited to enter the WPSL,” Royals managing director Stephanie Lee said in a news release. “The WPSL provides another level of developmental opportunities for players, so we know it’s the right step for Utah Royals FC to continue our efforts of growth in the women’s game.”

The RSL Women will no longer exist with the addition of the reverses team. A team spokesperson said players from the RSL Women team will have the opportunity to join the Reserves in some capacity to be determined at a later date.