Utah Royals are buying in to interim coach Amy LePeilbet

(Photo courtesy of Utah Royals FC) Amy LePeilbet was named the interim head coach of Utah Royals FC last week after Craig Harrington and Louis Lancaster were placed on leave.

Amy LePeilbet didn’t plan to become Utah Royals FC’s head coach. But circumstances dictated that she step into the role on an interim basis.

So far, she’s received the ultimate buy-in from the players, many of whom waxed poetic about LePeilbet’s soccer knowledge and accomplishments during her playing career.

“It’s an honor to be coached by Amy,” midfielder Vero Boquete said after Utah’s loss to the Portland Thorns last week to open the National Women’s Soccer League Fall Series.

LePeilbet became the interim head coach of the Royals after head man Craig Harrington and assistant Louis Lancaster were placed on leave from team duties. Their leaves were announced during the pregame broadcast of the Portland matchup.

LePeilbet has been on the Royals coaching staff since the club arrived in Utah in 2018. She’s served as an assistant since that time, and has mostly observed from the press box — at least during home matches. She sat on the bench during this summer’s Challenge Cup, which was hosted in Utah.

LePeilbet had to step in to a role for an organization going through all kinds of turmoil. In addition to the club’s two coaches being on leave, Dell Loy Hansen is in the process of selling Utah Soccer, the holding company that includes the three Utah professional soccer teams. Hansen and the organization’s chief business officer, Andy Carroll, are both under investigation by Major League Soccer and the NWSL for their role in creating a toxic culture within the club.


At Rio Tinto Stadium

When • Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

LePeilbet didn’t say whether she expects to coach for the remaining three games of the Fall Series. But she’s taking it in stride.

“I’ve enjoyed stepping into his role, but it definitely wasn’t something that was planned,” LePeilbet said Friday during a videoconference. “But I think it’s a good opportunity to help lead this group. It’s an honor to lead this group. Honestly, I take it one day at a time.”

The Royals are well aware of what LePeilbet brings to the table. She won a gold medal with the U.S. Women’s National Team in the 2012 Olympics and a silver in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

And she has some head coaching experience. She led the Utah Royals FC Reserves to the Women’s Professional Soccer League final in 2019, the first year the club competed in that league. She was named Coach of the Year as the Reserves went 9-1-0.

The players revere LePeilbet and have been behind her during this transition period.

“The meetings that we have with her — on film or just everyday life — I think everybody is appreciating her and just looking up to her,” midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta said. “She’s doing great at it right now.”

LePeilbet said her focus has not been to put her coaching imprint on the team. Instead, she and the rest of the coaching staff put their attention to Saturday’s home game against the OL Reign. That game will be the first with fans for the Royals in 2020.

But players have noticed some differences with LePeilbet at the helm.

“She’s definitely someone who kind of watches, observes, takes it all in, and then distributes information,” LaBonta said. “That’s why I think it’s a switch-up for the team and it’s very informational at times and girls each day are just trying to get better and that’s what Amy is trying to get out [of] every individual and as a team.”

Defender Elizabeth Ball said she feels the Royals are going to be in a good place as a team once the Fall Series ends because LePeilbet “has the vision that more aligns with what our team can do.”