SALT LAKE CITY — Intensity: Check.
Approach to the game: Check.
The desire to get better: Check.
Knowledge of soccer both domestic and abroad: Check.
Over the last two weeks as he’s been tasked with finding the first head coach for the new National Women’s Soccer League team that will debut in Salt Lake City next spring, it became clear to Real Salt Lake general manager Craig Waibel that Laura Harvey ticked off all the boxes for what he was looking for in a leader.
The 37-year-old from England was formally introduced as the yet-to-be-named team’s head coach on Monday morning.
“All credit to Laura, because it’s who she is,” Waibel said via conference call. “It’s not an act. It’s certainly not in any way cosmetic or aesthetic in terms of trying to paint a picture. She is exactly who she says she is, and authenticity is something we really desire here.”
Harvey’s arrival in the Beehive State is the latest twist in what has been an interesting month for her. On Nov. 7, she announced that she had decided to step down as head coach of the NWSL’s Seattle Reign FC, and she started looking at some opportunities internationally.
None of those seemed quite right to Harvey, and she was contacted by RSL brass just days later.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity,” she said. “I think what the club’s looking to build and the vision that it has is super exciting, not just for me, but I think for women’s soccer in the United States. Everything that we’re trying to do, from facilities, the environment that the players are going to have, is going to be world class, and that’s something that I’m really excited about.”
Over the course of her five seasons in Seattle, Harvey compiled a record of 51-26-33 and led the Reign to the NWSL Finals in 2014 and 2015. She earned the NWSL Coach of the Year Award both seasons.
While Harvey will be leading a new team, the squad will not be starting entirely from scratch, as many who played last season for FC Kansas City are expected to make the move to the Wasatch Front.
Harvey said she plans on employing a system that relies heavily on maintaining possession.
“The way that I believe the game should be played,” she said, “is take care of the ball and if you don’t have it, work as hard as you can to go win it back.”
The team’s name and logo will be officially unveiled on Wednesday morning, as will ticket packages for the upcoming season.