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Royals FC vs Portland Thorns: What We Learned

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Second home game, first home goal.

Cindy Lara - RSL Soapbox

Finally!

After being held scoreless during the first home game, the Royals broke through and shook the net at Rio Tinto Stadium. Though the match ended in a draw, it was great to get that one in the books. Here’s this week’s impressions from the first visit from Portland Thorns FC.

Amy Rodriguez

We’re going to give the US Women’s National Team legend her own section here. Much has been said about Amy: her determination to be fit to play through having children and tearing her ACL. Her skill on the ball. The way she changes games with her play.

It’s been visible through her first two matches that she has entered as a substitute, but she got the start this night and didn’t disappoint. Though the Royals struggled with trying to play long balls over the top for the whole first half, it was ultimately a long pass from Kelley O’Hara that Rodriguez battled through a defender to get, then neatly stepped around Britt Eckerstrom and finished past Meghan Klingenberg to join Brian Dunseth (RSL) and Justen Glad (Real Monarchs) as scorers of the first home goals in team history for the three RSL Family teams. It was the moment we’ve all been waiting for, and it was celebrated accordingly.

Making the switch

Laura Harvey mixed things up with the starting lineup in a significant way. With Becca Moros able to play again, Kelley O’Hara was able to move up to the winger position and play alongside Rodriguez and Thorsnes as the forward line for the night. Diana Matheson dropped back to the attacking mid spot, with Gunny Jónsdóttir taking the number 8 role from Katie Bowen.

The result should have been a more dynamic and threatening attack, but whether it was lack of confidence or Portland’s pressing, the Royals were limited to trying to lob balls over the three defenders and hope to get on the end of it. Both teams went without a shot on goal in the first half, and the Royals continue to struggle with finding the best combination to generate a dangerous attack.

A long way to go

Despite being a night game played in beautiful conditions, the attendance for this match was listed as 8,446. That’s a considerable drop from the first match, but was still good enough to be the second highest second game for any MLS-affiliated women’s team, and was also highest in NWSL for week 5. Though team performance undoubtedly plays a part, a lot of people are still missing out on how amazing it is to have such talented players on both sides of the field every week.

There’s also a lot of work still to be done in getting the offensive power going. As is often said about Real Salt Lake, there’s just too much talent on the field for URFC for them to not be consistently dangerous and creating quality chances to score. They need to start putting it together before too much of the season has passed.