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#URFC vs Chicago Player of the Game: You, the fans! All 19,203 of you.

We could have easily picked a player, and we have our top contenders, but everyone was talking about the 19,203 fans who filled Rio Tinto Stadium.

Wirtjo Leonard

You came. You came and filled The RioT, especially when the NWSL is trying to grow in attendance numbers. You showed the league and everyone watching that Utah can welcome women’s professional soccer, and you did it with a statement - selling out Rio Tinto as 19,203 of you came for the Utah Royals’ grand home opener. We know it could have probably been more, but there was a concert stage in the way.

The atmosphere was unlike any other. First off, the stadium was full of gold, a representation of the Royals’ Victory Gold primary jerseys that they wore against Chicago. There were thunder sticks all around, their beat echoing throughout the match as you used them to create the noise they were intended for. The supporters section, officially known as The Court, was lively with drums and chants, just as a supporters section should be.

And of all this did not go unnoticed. The Royals noticed. The Chicago Red Stars noticed. All of them praising what they had just been a part of.

“The environment was unbelievable. Kudos to Utah for showing up and supporting us. It was something special today and I feel like I was a part of something special. It’s disappointing we didn’t get the win to add to the wonderful day but to play in front of a crowd like that, this is why we play soccer,” Royals Captain Becky Sauerbrunn said post-game on the atmosphere created by the 19,203 fans.

Danielle Colaprico, who scored the game’s only goal on a volley in the 27th minute, also was in awe of playing in front of Utah fans.

The atmosphere is unreal; it’s awesome. The only other place we really experienced that is Portland, so it’s great to see that the league is growing. It was amazing being out there and it’s very surreal,” Colaprico said.

And get this, you set the highest attendance for the weekend in the NWSL. Portland drew 16,466 fans to their home opener, which is always impressive because the Thorns are known for their large crowds at their home games.

So, way to go, Utah! You had the soccer world talking and amazed.

Let’s do it again on April 28th when Portland comes to town.