After departing Reading F.C. in England’s FA Women’s Super League earlier this year, Kelly Cousins (Chambers) is heading to another set of Royals — this time in the National Women’s Soccer League.
On Tuesday morning, the Utah Royals announced that Cousins would be the club’s new sporting director. This is the expansion side’s first major staffing announcement since former U.S. women’s team and Utah Royals player Amy Rodriguez was announced as head coach in April.
“I am really looking forward to bringing my knowledge and experience to build a roster, a culture and most importantly a place that gives players everything they need to be able to perform at their best,” said Cousins.
Cousins previously spent more than 20 years with Reading, first as a player and then, after suffering an ACL injury in 2012, as the Director of Women’s and Girl’s football. Reading was in the third tier of English football at the time of Cousins’ transition to management and under her guidance they made it up to the second tier by 2013. By 2015, they had won the WSL 2 division and earned a promotion to the top flight. Reading remained in the first division for eight straight years and had its best performance in the 2017/2018 season when it finished fourth in the standings behind Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City.
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After being relegated in this most recent season, Reading announced that they would be reverting their women’s team to part-time which prompted Cousins to make the “extremely difficult decision to step away from the club” where she’d spent her entire professional career.
In Cousins, the Royals have an incredibly experienced and resourceful director with a proven history of taking underdogs to unexpected heights. Although adjusting to the NWSL will likely present its challenges, being paired with Rodriguez — one of the most experienced and successful U.S. players of all time — should help ease the transition. With Utah preparing to enter the league in 2024 and with the expansion and college drafts only a few months away, Cousins will need to hit the ground running to get the team ready for its inaugural season. Still, with her track record of turning a third-division team into a first-division mainstay in spite of limited resources and funding, there’s a lot here for Utah fans to be excited about.
“Kelly is truly a swiss army knife of Soccer Operations,” said Utah President Michelle Hyncik. “From sporting side strategic planning and squad management infrastructure building, to scouting and recruitment, to coaching, to everything in between – she has done it all. Even more importantly, getting to know Kelly on a personal level and seeing her skillset as a collaborator has been a joy. We could not be more excited to welcome her family to our Utah community.”
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