The biggest weakness on the Utah Royals FC roster in its inaugural campaign in 2018 was that its midfield struggled to connect offensively with its forwards.
The club on Friday made a move that should significantly help in that regard, as it signed Spanish Women's National Team veteran midfielder Veronica Boquete, who captained Spain in its first-ever World Cup in 2015.
It will mark a return to the United States and the National Women's Soccer League for the 31-year-old Boquete, as she played here from 2010-2014, with her last stop being with the Portland Thorns in the NWSL. That season, she finished second in league MVP voting and was named to the NWSL Best XI after winning league Player of the Week three times.
She has also played in Spain, Russia, Sweden, Germany France, and her most recent stop, China.
“We are really happy to bring Vero to Utah," URFC head coach/acting general manager Laura Harvey said in a statement. "She is a proven talent that knows what it takes to play in the NWSL. 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."
In an Instagram Live video hosted by URFC, Boquete said she's particularly excited to play for Harvey.
"Watching her, her job, and playing so many times against her, I really admire her," Boquete said. "I wanted to work with her, play for her, and now I have the opportunity, so I'm really excited."
Harvey had similar sentiments about Boquete, who is Spain's all-time leading goal scorer.
"Vero is a player I have admired for a number of years and I am glad we can finally work together," she said. "She is a proven goal-scorer, playmaker and can play anywhere in the midfield or the frontline.”
While Boquete will get to know all of her teammates over time, she already has significant familiarity with a few. She and defender Becca Moros were teammates on the Thorns, while she and forward Christen Press were in Sweden. Boquete said that after she talked with Harvey about the possibility of moving to Utah, she reached out to Press, who endorsed the idea.
"I'm really looking forward to playing with Christen," Boquete said. "For sure she's one of the best forwards in the world. I enjoyed so much to play with her in Sweden and (I'm) looking forward to being on the field with her and try to pass so many passes so she can score so many goals."
Elsewhere in URFC news on Friday, the United States Women's National Team announced the 26-player roster for its camp in January ahead of matches against France and Spain, and Press, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O'Hara unsurprisingly got the call.Comment on this story
The NWSL's annual draft will be on Jan. 10. URFC did own the first overall pick, but in classic Harvey fashion, she traded it to the Chicago Red Stars as part of the deal in which URFC acquired Press and Sam Johnson last summer.
URFC does not own a pick until the third round of the four-round draft. Players are able to declare themselves eligible for the draft up until the night before, and three with Utah ties have done so, Hailey Skolmoski North (Riverton, University of Utah), Amelia Fullmer (Pleasant Grove) and Brittany Terry (St. George).