The home opener for Utah Royals FC arrived with all the pomp and circumstance we could have hoped for, but the team fell short of the desired result for the match. Here’s a few things to take away from the 0-1 scoreline vs Chicago Red Stars.
All that glitters
Match performance aside, it was an amazing day for soccer in Utah. The weather cooperated to bring sunshine and comfortable temperatures, and the second-largest inaugural match attendance in league history made Rio Tinto Stadium feel like a different and special place.
I had worried that it would feel a lot like a Real Salt Lake match with two women’s teams playing, but this was a uniquely URFC experience. The supporters groups brought a few different chants to supplement the soccer standards, there was a drumline that kept the energy level in the stadium up, and the whole attitude of the crowd just felt different. It was an incredible experience, one that will hopefully be maintained for the rest of the season.
Finding their way
As for the match, the hosts left a little to be desired after two solid performances on the road. Maybe they were too comfortable or playing at home, or maybe the pressure of playing in front of their own enormous crowd got to them, but the Royals never seemed truly comfortable maintaining possession and making good passing decisions. There were still a few flashes of greatness, but the players seemed disconnected for most of the match, and it let Chicago stay calm and composed.
The only difference between the two teams in the match was the one moment that a cleared service into the box fell to an unmarked Danielle Colaprico, who didn’t hesitate to settle with one touch and fire towards goal. It’s something almost any player in the league will do at any moment, and the Royals got caught by it.
The goals will come
I’m going to carry this section over from the last match. Though it may be hard to picture based on only scoring once so far in three matches, this team does have scoring power on the roster. Gunny was close again on another brilliant pass through the defense to set her up, but mistimed her shot and missed the ball. There’s still a lot of work Laura Harvey needs to do in order to find the right combinations of players in the right moments to create more chances, but don’t doubt for a moment that she’s the coach who can make it happen.
- Is the RioT just a cursed stadium these days? Some of those misplaced passes looked a lot like RSL at times.
- This might be a league where they don’t believe in yellow cards, or maybe the referee was afraid you wouldn’t see her hold it up against the Royals jerseys.