The Utah Royals selected goalkeeper Abby Smith, forward Katie Stengel, defender Brooke Elby and the rights to retired midfielder Amanda DaCosta out of the pool of former Boston Breakers players available in the NWSL dispersal draft Tuesday.
“You’re looking for players who can really impact your roster straight away,” Royals coach Laura Harvey told The Salt Lake Tribune. “...We’d identified three players we really wanted, and those are the three players that we got. So we were super happy about it.”
When the Breakers ceased operations Saturday, the draft was launched to reassign the defunct team’s players to clubs around the league. The NWSL will continue with nine teams for the 2018 season.
Utah, which acquired the rights to the FC Kansas City players when that team folded in November, was one of just three teams to make four or more selections in the dispersal draft.
The Royals selected Smith with the No. 5 overall pick. Smith, 24, recorded three shutouts in 19 matches last season, her first in the league. A call-up for the United States youth national teams throughout her career, Smith trained with the senior team in July.
With the No. 14 overall pick, Utah selected Stengel. The forward, 25, began her professional career overseas, leading FC Bayern Munich with nine goals in 2014-2015. She returned stateside the next year to join the Washington Spirit. The Spirit waived her midway through the 2017 season, and Boston claimed her off waivers. She logged one assist in 12 matches with the Breakers.
In the third round, the Royals picked defender Brooke Elby, 24, who signed with Boston as a discovery player ahead of the 2016 season. She has appeared in 26 matches since.
Utah and Chicago were the only two teams to make selections in the fourth round. Seattle made five picks in all, but did so in the first three rounds, trading its natural first-round 2019 NWSL College Draft pick for Orlando’s first and second round picks in the dispersal draft.
With the No. 32 overall pick, the Royals selected rights to DaCosta, who retired in August. DaCosta’s three-year NWSL career came on the heels of a stint with Liverpool L.F.C. that spanned two consecutive FA Women’s Super League titles and a Champions League berth.
“The likelihood of her coming back is small,” Harvey said, “but I think in this league whenever you can get rights to players they’re always valuable.”