SANDY — Utah Royals FC went international to find its next attacking player.
The club announced Friday it has signed Spanish national team midfielder Veronica Boquete, adding the 31-year-old attacking midfielder to a team that will need to make several adjustments during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
“I wanted a new challenge in an ambitious club,” Boquete said in a statement. “There is nothing better than Utah Royals FC and the NWSL. I am happy to be back in the U.S. and I am grateful for the trust of Utah Royals FC. I can’t wait to start the season and fight for our goals. Great club, team, fantastic fans, and a world-class coach.”
Boquete, who goes by the nickname "Vero," has played in the United States, Russian, Sweden, France and Germany before her most recent stop at Chinese club Beijing BG Phoenix last year, where she scored eight goals in 31 matches since signing in February.
A native of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Boquete first burst on the scene with Prainsa Zaragoza, when she scored 40 goals in 83 appearances from 2005-08 to earn several call-ups with the Spanish national team.
She captained the Spaniards in their first-ever appearance at Women’s World Cup in 2015 in Canada and went on to a successful career with the Portland Thorns, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. She also took home player of the year honors in the now-defunct Women’s Pro Soccer when she played for the Philadelphia Independence in 2011-12.
“We are really happy to bring Vero to Utah. She is a proven talent that knows what it takes in the NWSL,” Utah coach Laura Harvey said. “Her commitment to wanting the best is unbelievable, and once we started speaking about the possibility of bringing her to the club, that level of professionalism shined through.
“Vero is a player I have admired for a number of years and I am glad we can finally work together. She is a proven goal-scorer, playmaker, and can play anywhere in the midfield or the frontline.”
Adding to the club via international signings is likely the best way for the Royals, who went 9-8-7 for fifth place in their inaugural season, to bring in immediate impact players. The side traded away most of their picks in the 2019 NWSL college draft in the trade that brought U.S. striker Christen Press to Utah, including the No. 1 and No. 7 overall picks.
Utah also sent their natural second-round pick to the North Carolina Courage in a move that brought midfielder Makenzy Doniak to the Wasatch Front.
Utah Royals FC will have the Nos. 23, 27 and 31 picks in the draft, which begins Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. MT during the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Chicago.
The club is likely to miss as many as seven players during the upcoming World Cup, with international regulars Press, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Amy Rodriguez of the United States; Rachel Corsie of Scotland; and Diana Matheson and Desiree Scott of Canada all seeing regular minutes on Utah’s roster.
Boquete hasn’t played in a major international tournament since the 2015 World Cup, having been omitted from the roster for the UEFA Women’s Euro in 2017.