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Royals trade USWNT's Kelley O'Hara to the Spirit

Utah Royals trade USWNT's Kelley O'Hara to the Washington Spirit

December 2, 2020 By Juan Aguerrevere
The Washington Spirit landed U.S. World Cup champion defender Kelley O’Hara in a trade with the Utah Royals on Tuesday, according to Steven Goff from The Washington Post.

The trade benefits both O'Hara and the Spirit. The 32-year-old defender was keen on moving to the Washington area, where she has a home. Meanwhile, the Spirit was looking to bring in an experienced USWNT player since the departure of Rose Lavelle in August. The Utah Royals received $75,000 in allocation money plus additional consideration contingent on NWSL regular season matches O'Hara plays for the Spirit in 2021.

Both teams negotiated during the summer, but Utah's request for defender Tegan McGrady and Ashley Hatch fell through. 

O'Hara made just 14 appearances in her three years with the Utah Royals because of injuries and national team commitments. In 2020, she played two Challenge Cup matches and did not play a single fall series game. To put it into perspective, she played 491 minutes in less than one month for the USWNT during the World Cup in 2019 and 823 minutes for the Royals in three years. Before her stint with Utah, O'Hara played five seasons with Sky Blue FC.

The Royals are left without any national team players in their roster. Defender Becky Sauerbrunn was traded to the Portland Thorns before the start of the 2020 season, while Christen Press was picked up by Racing Louisville in the expansion draft in early November. Ex-Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando believes that the culture in Utah needs to change to attract and retain national team players, following a tremulous summer regarding the franchise's owners and coaching staff.

In addition to O'Hara's acquisition, the Spirit landed a deal for 20-year-old Japanese international Saori Takarada from the Nadeshiko League club Cerezo Osaka Sakai Ladies where she scored 44 goals in 110 games. The forward signed a two-year deal that will see her play until 2022. Takarada has three appearances for Japan's senior team.

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