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2018 Player Profiles: Diana Matheson

With major contributions to Utah’s season, the 34-year-old proved that age is nothing but a number.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Diana Matheson was supposed to play under Laura Harvey in 2017 in Seattle after being traded from Washington Spirit to the Reign in January 2017, but a month later, an ACL tear sidelined Matheson for the entire season. Harvey then left Seattle in the off-season and was later hired to coach Utah Royals FC.

But the stars would again align for the Canadian international to play under Harvey. Just before the 2018 NWSL College Draft, Utah picked up Matheson in a trade with Seattle Reign FC. In exchange, the Royals sent midfielder Yael Averbuch, whom Utah had acquired the rights from FC Kansas City, and the 25th overall pick in the draft.

Matheson would be central to Utah’s midfield from the start. Playing in her first game since the 2016 NWSL Championship game, Matheson provided the assist to Gunny Jónsdóttir for the historic first goal for the franchise. Matheson curled a left-footed cross to Jónsdóttir who was making a run in the goal box.

Two months later, in the game against Washington, as Utah looked to finally get their first win of the season, Matheson stole the ball in the seventh minute and passed to Amy Rodriguez, who found Kelley O’Hara. O’Hara would score her first goal of the season and Utah would take the 1-0 lead. In the 66th minute, Matheson again stole the ball. This time, on a clean slide tackle, to take it in for Utah’s second goal and game-winner.

A month later, as Utah hoped to bounce back from a setback in Portland the previous week, it would be Matheson who would strike early for Utah to take the lead in New Jersey against Sky Blue FC. It was déjà vu from Utah’s first goal back in March, only this time, Jónsdóttir served Matheson with a cross that found Matheson’s right foot, volleying it into the goal within the six-yard box.

When Utah suffered setbacks in the summer with three consecutive losses, Harvey changed tactics and the lineup to stay in playoff contention, which affected Matheson’s time on the field for the last third of the season. Still, when on the field, Matheson, with her speed and work ethic, proved that, at 34-years-old, age is nothing but a number. In 21 appearances and 18 starts, Matheson had 11 interceptions, five clearances, won 65% of her tackles, and completed 73.7% of her passes.

Matheson is expected to continue as an allocated player under the Canadian National Team and return to Utah Royals FC for the 2019 season.