Kansas City NWSL team replaces Utah Royals FC in league lineup

Utah Royals FC debut

An expansion Kansas City NWSL team will replace Utah Royals FC in the National Women’s Soccer League lineup, as Dell Loy Hansen sells off his American soccer holdings.

The new Kansas City team will be owned by wife and husband team Angie and Chris Long, the pair behind Kansas City-based Palmer Square Capital Management. Technically, Kansas City is an expansion team, with the operations of the Royals winding down. According to a league press release, all player rights, draft picks, and certain other assets formerly held by Utah Royals FC will be transferred to the new team in Kansas City.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our league, and I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Kansas City back to the NWSL,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird via press statement. “Kansas City is a soccer-rich community, and this fantastic ownership group is ready and able to commit the resources necessary for this club to be a massive success. I’d also like to thank the fans in Utah for their incredible support of the NWSL.”

“Chris and I could not be more ecstatic to welcome a team back to Kansas City, especially as the league has been transformed by innovative leadership and explosive growth. We are committed to getting this right–for our team and our town,” said Angie Long via press statement. “We can’t wait for the players and the country to see what we have long known: there’s something special about living in Kansas City and something even more special about playing here.”

The ownership group also includes many female industry leaders, including marketing and creative executive Jen Gulvik, who serves as the new NWSL Kansas City team president, and former professional soccer player and fitness entrepreneur Brittany Matthews.  

The Longs have named former FC Kansas City General Manager Huw Williams as head coach of the new NWSL Kansas City club. Williams was part of the FCKC leadership team that won back-to-back NWSL championships in 2014 and 2015; working hand-in-hand with then FCKC head coach, now USWNT head coach, Vlatko Andonovski.

“We have had the privilege of seeing firsthand how Huw builds a winning culture, inspiring teams with not only his work ethic and technical expertise, but with his intense love of the game and commitment to excellence,” Long said via press release. “He is already hard at work and will be a great leader for the club.”

Still to come: the team’s name, branding, and training and competition venues.

The sale is part of the tumultuous end of the Hansen era in professional soccer. Hansen bought Real Salt Lake and added the NWSL team, which was widely regarded as a success, soon afterward. However, following allegations of misconduct, Hansen was told by MLS to sell his soccer assets before the end of the year.

Image courtesy Utah Royals.

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