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NWSL folds Kansas City franchise, relocating players to Salt Lake

By Sean Walker,  |  Posted Nov 20th, 2017 @ 2:08pm


SALT LAKE CITY — It’s official: the National Women’s Soccer League will play the 2018 season with 10 clubs, including the recently launched squad backed by Sandy-based Real Salt Lake.

FC Kansas City is no more, the league announced Monday morning in a statement.

The NWSL’s announcement states that it has “re-acquired FC Kansas City LLC’s membership interest in the league,” and the club will permanently cease operations.

Each Kansas City player on the roster will be transferred to the new Salt Lake club, which will play the 2018 season at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.

“First, we’d like to recognize and thank Elam Baer and FC Kansas City LLC for their efforts this past year. We appreciate his commitment in helping the NWSL move forward,” NWSL managing director of operations Amanda Duffy said in a statement. “As the league moves on, and as difficult as it is to share this news about FC Kansas City, we feel it is in the best interest of the league and the players at this time.”

FC Kansas City players currently under contract include U.S. women’s national team regulars Becky Sauerbrunn, Sydney Leroux Dwyer and Amy Rodriguez, as well as Canadian international and Olympic bronze medalist Desiree Scott. KC also previously extended a contract offer to veteran international goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart before folding.

“We are sympathetic to the range of emotions experienced in recent days by this group of talented players,” said RSL general manager Craig Waibel, who will also serve in the same capacity for the NWSL club. “However, we know they will be excited about enhancing the soccer culture we are building for them here in Utah.

Sandy City Mayor Tom Dolan, Gov. Gary Herbert, Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen, National Women's Soccer League managing director Amanda Duffy, Real Salt Lake chief business officer Andy Carroll and Real Salt Lake general manager Craig Waibel, pose for a photo after announcing a new NWSL team to play in Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

“As we evaluate this roster — in the midst of looking to hire a head coach — players know that they are the sole focus of our aspirations as we modify our world-class facilities to their needs, expand our club and deepen our roots in the community.”

Waibel’s next thought turns to the announcement of a head coach for the new club. Real Salt Lake is set to interview candidates this week with a range of options both locally and internationally, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

Salt Lake will also receive FC Kansas City’s picks in the 2018 NWSL College Draft, and any previously held spots in such mechanisms as discovery, waiver wire and distribution rankings.

As a condition of joining the league, Real Salt Lake will also receive the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Folding the team also means FC Kansas City’s league titles in 2014 and 2015 will not transfer to Salt Lake. Owner Dell Loy Hansen attained permission from the league to introduce the new franchise in two weeks from first contact to formal introduction.

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