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Utah Royals acquire US striker Christen Press in mega-trade with Chicago

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Jun. 18, 2018 at 4:34 p.m.


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SANDY — Utah Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez recently made her return to the U.S. women’s national team.

Another U.S. striker is on her way to Utah, too.

The Royals acquired the rights to U.S. international Christen Press, the club announced Monday, pending the receipt of her international transfer certificate.

The 29-year-old Press, who most recently played for Goteborg FC in Sweden, is among the top strikers in the international game with 44 goals in 100 appearances for the United States. The veteran striker returns to the National Women's Soccer League looking to join U.S. coach Jill Ellis' squad prior to World Cup qualifying matches this fall.

Having just played 20 minutes for Goteborg on Sunday, Press will arrive in Utah next week and be eligible for the Royals’ next home game, Wednesday, June 27, against Seattle Reign FC.

In exchange, Utah (4-2-5, 17 points) will send outside back Brooke Elby and five future NWSL college draft picks to the Chicago Red Stars — including the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft and four more picks from the first and second round in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 drafts.

The Royals will also receive defender Samantha Johnson from Chicago.

“Obviously, we are elated to add players of Christen’s attacking quality and Samantha’s pedigree to a spectacular group that is really starting to come together, as our current form indicates,” Utah coach Laura Harvey said in a statement from the club. “Her familiarity through the national team with and against many of our players should help her quickly adjust to Utah. The timing here is massive, and kudos to Mr. (Dell Loy) Hansen (Utah Royals FC owner) and everyone involved for making the deal.”

Also as part of the trade, Chicago sent midfielders Taylor Comeau and Sofia Huerta to the Houston Dash, who held Press’ rights after the striker left the NWSL for Sweden prior tot he 2018 season.

Houston will also receive a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NWSL college draft. The Dash acquired Press’ NWSL player rights via a three-team trade on Jan. 18, though she never played in Texas.

Elby, a fourth-year professional in the NWSL whose rights were acquired by Utah when the Boston Breakers folded prior to the 2018 season, appeared in seven games for the Royals, primarily as a starting left back.

Royals' Brooke Elby practices with the rest of the team during the Utah Royals FC's practice at the Zions Bank Real Academy Training Center in Herriman on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (Photo: Jacob Wiegand, Deseret News)

Elby did not play in Utah's 1-0 win over North Carolina last Saturday.

“We are thankful to Brooke for her efforts both on the field and in the community to help us launch this franchise,” Utah managing director Stephanie Lee said. “We look forward to welcoming Samantha to the group this week, and cannot wait for our fans to join us at Rio Tinto Stadium next week in the game against Seattle.”

In a strange coincidence, Elby’s first game eligible to play for Chicago will come Saturday, when the Red Stars host Utah at Toyota Stadium. The game, which will kick off at 5:30 p.m. MDT, will be streamed live on KSL.com and the KSL TV app.

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