San Diego Wave FC are the latest club to negotiate a deal ahead of the expansion draft. Utah Royals FC acquired Kaleigh Riehl from San Diego in exchange for expansion protection and $60,000 in allocation money, the club announced on Monday. The 27-year-old defender is the second player acquired by Utah after the club recently announced a.
Utah Royals will be Riehl’s third expansion club. She was previously selected by Racing Louisville in the 2021 expansion draft and later selected in the 2022 expansion draft by San Diego. In two seasons with San Diego, she appeared in 41 regular season games (37 starts) for the club. The centerback scored the club’s first-ever competitive goal, a game-tying goal in the 2022 Challenge Cup opener against Angel City FC. Her experience in the position will give Utah an immediate anchor in their backline for their inaugural season.
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“I’m incredibly excited to join Utah Royals FC – I can’t wait to bring women’s professional soccer back to Utah,” said Riehl, selected a year ago as one of San Diego’s expansion picks. “(Royals Head Coach) Amy Rodriguez has an immense amount of knowledge and experience in the game and I can’t wait to learn from her and her staff. I’m looking forward to competing with my teammates every day and contributing to this Club in any and every way I can. I’m also looking forward to getting to know the city, the fans and the community – everyone who makes this place special.”
The move now makes two clubs, Orlando and San Diego, who have expansion draft protection from Utah in the upcoming event.
“Both Kelly [Cousins, URFC Sporting Director] and myself are excited to welcome Riehl to the Club,” said Utah Head Coach Amy Rodriguez.
“I have no doubt that these players will put their blood, sweat and tears into this team. As we build Utah Royals FC from scratch, these are precisely the type of players that you want – ones that will bring not just talent but also a relentlessness to roll up their sleeves up and get to work.”