Lindon native, Utah alum Carly Nelson takes ‘mental health leave’ from Utah Royals


SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Royals Goalkeeper Carly Nelson announced on Wednesday on Instagram is “taking a mental health leave” from the team after appearing on the team’s injury report as an “excused absence” since May 3.

Nelson is a Lindon native and spent four years at the University of Utah. He joined the Royals in a trade from the Orlando Pride during the offseason and started Utah’s first game this season when starter Mandy Haught was suspended.

“I love this game with everything in me, but at the end of the day, it’s just football,” Nelson said on his Instagram Story. “It started to bleed into my personal life and poison my love for the game. For me, that cost is too high to continue.”

Nelson clarified that he is not retiring, but “just resting a little.”

Royals teammate Imani Dorsey took a similar excused absence due to mental health issues during the 2023 season with Gotham FC before returning to the field with Utah this year.

“When I took a step back… I didn’t know if I would come back,” Dorsey said in an Instagram post. “But I’m grateful to say that my time off helped me rediscover what I love about this sport – competing, being active and being part of a team – and now I’m very excited to continue playing.”

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Paid mental health leave was part of the first NWSL collective bargaining agreement signed in 2022. Prior to the collective bargaining agreement, mental illness was not considered a physical injury and was not paid.

“As a club, Utah Royals FC and Real Salt Lake fully support Carly and her decision to step away from the team to focus on her mental health,” Utah said in a statement to KSL.com. “The URFC and NWSL will continue to provide the resources she and others need.”



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