After all the anticipation and excitement, the time has come. Utah Royals FC travel to Orlando to take on the Pride in their first ever National Women’s Soccer League match.
A new era begins
Despite being a team largely composed of the FC Kansas City roster from 2017, there is definitely a feeling of starting fresh surrounding this team. The trades for Kelley O’Hara, Taylor Lytle, and Diana Matheson, combined with new player signings like Gunny Jónsdóttir and Elise Thorsenes, as well as Laura Harvey’s tactical preferences, will give this team a chance to forge its own identity.
Starting off right
The challenge for URFC to get off on the right foot will be a steep one. Orlando Pride finished 3rd in the league in 2017, making the playoffs for the first time in only their second season of competition. They posted a league-high 45 goals scored in the regular season before falling 4-1 to Portland Thorns in the semifinals.
Despite that, the team still boasts a potent attack with U.S. Women’s National Team star forward Alex Morgan, former URFC forward Sydney Leroux, promising young player Rachel Hill who scored 9 goals in Australia’s W-League this year, and Brazilian legend Marta, the 5-time FIFA World Player of the Year. On the defensive side, USWNT mainstay Ali Krieger leads a unit that includes Carson Pickett, Brazilian star Poliana, and Australia’s Alanna Kennedy, all in front of USWNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
Spoiled for choice
Harvey and GM Craig Waibel have built an impressive roster of players. There are a NWSL record 11 players on the team who are currently active with their national teams, and others who may be knocking on the door of a call up. Even accounting for the injuries to Amy Rodriguez and Alex Arlitt, there are plenty of options for the team to put out for their first starting eleven. Expect to see a variety of players from the FCKC and Boston Breakers rosters combined with many of the new additions to the team.
This is what we’ve all been waiting for. The players are ready and feeling confident, and the supporters are eager to see what this new team can accomplish. Make way for the Royals!
ORL: Harris; Pickett, Krieger, Monica, Poliana; Nairn, Weatherholt; Leroux, Marta, Hill; Morgan
URFC: Smith; Moros, Sauerbrunn, Corsie, O’Hara; Smith, Matheson; Tymrak, Jónsdóttir, Lytle; Stengel
When: Saturday, March 24, 5:30PM MT
Where: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees
Broadcast: KMYU, KSLTV, 100.7 FM, go90
Referee: Danielle Chesky