More turmoil in Utah

The Utah Royals returned to play for the first time since the NWSL Challenge Cup on Sunday at Portland in their first game in the league's fall series.

It quickly became apparent something was wrong.

Head coach Craig Harrington and assistant coach Louis Lancaster were not on the sidelines, and former U.S. national team defender Amy LePeilbet, another Royals assistant who previously coached the Royals reserves in the WPSL, was running the team.

The Royals soon explained the mystery: Harrington and Lancaster had been placed on a leave of absence from team activities while LePeilbet was named head coach on an interim basis.

After the Royals lost, 3-0, LePeilbet said the changes came quickly: "It was pretty quick. It happened pretty fast. We moved quickly and the players, they didn’t miss a beat. Each day, they showed up. They never gave up. They went after it, and today, they gave their best effort.”

Since owner Dell Loy Hansen agreed to sell Utah Soccer, whose holdings include MLS's Real Salt Lake and the USL Championship's Real Monarchs as well as the Royals, investigations into behavior at the organization have been taking place.

The Athletic reported that Harrington's leave was as a result of the investigations being made about "inappropriate comments of a sexual nature with staff" and Lancaster’s leave is “for a different reason.”

Later in the day, Royals players issued a statement, released by the team via social media. saying they had enough, "enough of racist systems excluding black and brown people. Enough of sexist stereotypes infiltrating conversations about our talents and achievements as athletes. Enough of a work environment that is not open and inclusive for all.”

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