The game we have all been waiting for finally happened. Utah Royals FC took the field for the first time ever and pulled out an impressive 1-1 draw in one of the toughest environments and against one of the best teams in the NWSL.
The match started off quick, with a third-minute goal from Gunny Jonsdottir. The goal was assisted by Diana Matheson, who chipped in a beautiful ball to Gunny who then tapped it in for the first-ever URFC goal. From there the Royals came out and attacked, showing some great soccer. With little information about what to expect from this team, the quick start to their attack was something encouraging to see from a fan’s perspective.
Following the quick goal, Utah Royals FC captain Becky Sauerbrunn was hit in the face by the ball in the box, and the referee awarded the Pride a PK. Due to the PK that wasn’t necessarily a PK, the Pride had their first goal against the Royals. The PK was scored by none other than Marta herself.
The rest of the match was incredibly physical from URFC but unfortunately goalless. Both teams had multiple players fighting for possession and shots, despite there being no more goals scored.
Orlando Pride player Alex Morgan was subbed off in the second half, most likely because of her head-to-head collision with goalkeeper Abby Smith. Jonsdottir may have also suffered a minor injury, although she continued to play. Following a rough tackle, she limped around for a few minutes before being seen by the training staff, who okayed her to go back into the match.
All in all, for the first match this team has ever played, it was an impressive one. The Royals were able to stop Orlando’s incredibly talented attack in the run of play, as well as score their first ever goal to get the point on the road in Orlando.