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Utah Royals sign 2nd free agent

Gotham’s Imani Dorsey (28) chases down a ball during an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match on March 19, 2022, in Cary, N.C.
Gotham’s Imani Dorsey (28) chases down a ball during an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match on March 19, 2022, in Cary, N.C. | Ben McKeown, Associated Press

The Utah Royals have signed free agent forward Imani Dorsey, the team announced Wednesday.

Dorsey has spent her entire National Women’s Soccer League career up to this point with Gotham FC, formerly Sky Blue FC. In 2018, she was drafted fifth overall by Sky Blue and won Rookie of the Year.

“The vision for this club is so inspiring, the attention to detail shown by (Royals head coach) Amy Rodriguez and (sporting director) Kelly Cousins makes me so excited for the second Royals iteration to create one of the premier destinations for soccer in the entire world, and I’m grateful to be asked to be a part of this expansion side. I am very excited to help grow Utah’s soccer culture,” Dorsey said in a press release. “I cannot wait to dive head-first into the Utah experience.”

Why didn’t Imani Dorsey play in 2023?

Dorsey did not play during Gotham’s championship campaign this season and was designated as an excused absence. She announced on Nov. 15 that in April she decided to step away from the sport for her mental health.

“When I took a step back in April I didn’t know if I would return, but I am grateful to say my time away helped me rediscover what I love about this sport — competing, being active, and being a part of a team — and am now so excited to continue playing. As grateful as I have always been to play as a pro, it often felt like a burden rather than the privilege and opportunity it most definitely is,” she wrote on Instagram.

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What did Imani Dorsey say about mental health?

The NWSL’s collective bargaining agreement — for which Dorsey expressed gratitude on Instagram — allows players to take up to a six-month paid leave of absence for a mental health diagnosis if recommended by their licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.

“To everyone who is struggling, who doesn’t see an end in sight and doesn’t know what to do — know that it is ok to put yourself first. Lean on the people around you and confide in those you trust. Without my family and my faith, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” she wrote.

The Utah Royals said they are “fully committed to supporting and championing its players’ mental health and look forward to helping Dorsey return to the pitch during the 2024 NWSL season.”

Dorsey is Utah’s second free agent signing ahead of the team’s return to the NWSL next season. She is signed through the 2025 season.

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Who is on the Utah Royals’ roster?

The signing of Dorsey expands the Royals’ roster to six players. Last week, the Royals signed free agent Michele Vasconcelos, a Sandy-native and former BYU star.

Prior to signing Vasconcelos, the team traded for: