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Gotham FC trade goalkeeper Mandy Haught to Utah Royals

The Goths will receive allocation money and expansion draft protection in exchange for the NWSL Championship-winning keeper.

Gotham FC goalkeeper Mandy Haught had two clean sheets in the 2024 NWSL Championship playoff games | Courtesy Gotham FC

Gotham FC announced they traded goalkeeper Mandy Haught to expansion side Utah Royals FC. In exchange, Gotham get $150,000 in allocation money and expansion protection.

Haught was a key player in Gotham’s title run. She started in all three NWSL Championship playoff games, logging clean sheets in the road wins over the North Carolina Courage and the Portland Thorns. Haught earned a 90+7′ red card in Gotham’s 2-1 win over the OL Reign in the NWSL Championship Final, when she handled a ball outside of the penalty box. The play arguably preserved Gotham’s lead, but it forced the team to put midfielder Nealy Martin in goal for the closing minutes.

The 25-year-old started the season on the bench behind first-choice goalkeeper Abby Smith. After Smith suffered a season-ending injury in stoppage time during the 2-1 loss to the San Diego Wave on August 19, head coach Juan Carlos Amóros selected Haught to become the regular starter over veteran Michelle Betos. 

Haught went on to start in the final 6 games of the season, earning two clean sheets. Gotham won just a single match in that run of games, finishing the season in 6th place and making the playoffs on goal differential.

But Haught came into her own in the playoffs, anchoring an imperious defense that shut out two of the best attacks in the NWSL. She might always be remembered for her dramatic stoppage-time red card in the NWSL Championship Final, but her overall performance was spectacular as she, central defender Ali Krieger, and the rest of the defense withstood a relentless barrage of fast breaks launched by the Reign.

Because of the trade, Gotham receive protection in the expansion draft which will be held on Friday, December 17, at 7 pm ET. The expansion draft will be broadcast live on CBS Sports. 

The NWSL is adding two teams for the 2024 season, which will bring the league to 14 clubs. The Utah Royals, which were first established in 2017 by MLS club Real Salt Lake, played in the NWSL from 2018 to 2020 but ceased operations at the end of that season.  Real Salt Lake owners David Blitzer and Ryan Smith revived the team earlier this year.

Last month, Utah signed former Gotham defender Imani Dorsey.

They will be joined by Bay FC in San Jose, CA. Bay will play at Pay Pal Park, home to the San Jose Earthquakes, but they have no affiliation with the MLS club.