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Soapbox Mailbag: Utah Royals FC Edition

We answer questions from our first URFC mailbag!

Cindy Lara - RSL Soapbox

It’s our first mailbag post for all Utah Royals FC questions. We know that the NWSL is confusing with all its crazy rules, and then the team is doing well enough that we are curious about everything Laura Harvey does or the team does or does not do.

We totally get it!

So, we hope to answer some of your most pressing questions throughout the rest of the season.

Are there any valid reasons for non-rostered players to remain as practice players when they have no income?

Typically, non-roster players are players who are a part of the team, like a practice player, but they do not hold a contract because it all comes down to the roster limit set by the league, which allows for 18-20 players, and teams have to abide by that.

For draft picks, when a player is selected in the NWSL College Draft, they enter a Protected Period where the rights of any college players selected in the draft belong to the team who drafted them until the end of the season. Rights may be kept, waived, or traded.

This season has been unfortunate for lesser-known players and rookies due to the Boston Breakers folding prior to the season. It’s a season where there are too many players but not enough teams. We hope that changes next season.

Though we don’t know the situation about the rest of the teams in the league, we do know that RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen is looking out for all the Royals players this season, including providing housing.

What alternative URFC formations has Coach Harvey considered? What has she used with former teams? Favorite(s) if she has the right personnel?

For this one, we asked NWSL Media Association member and Sounder at Heart contributor, RJ Allen, her thoughts since she wrote on Laura Harvey a lot while Harvey coached Seattle Reign FC.

“Historically, she has really leaned on the 4-3-3. She likes backs that can get up. We saw it with O’Hara and Elby in the current team and Stephanie Cox and Kendall Fletcher in Seattle. She usually has the midfielders as center mids and lets the wing forwards be the runners.

The 4-3-3 really is her baby. 4-2-3-1 if she needs it.”

What makes the defense so strong? Is it leadership? World-class individual players? A system? For the past two games, no one has sniffed a goal. How is that possible?

It’s crazy how good the Royals defense is, which is 2nd in the league. The defense leads the NWSL in fewest goals allowed (5), fewest goals allowed per game (0.63), fewest shots on goal allowed (17), and fewest shots on goal allowed per game (2.1). Abby Smith has recorded four clean sheets so far, too.

We’ll definitely start by giving credit to the leadership for this one. Becky Sauerbrunn has, for many years, been considered the top defender in the world. She has won a World Cup and two NWSL Championships for anchoring those championship-winning defenses. She knows how to lead defenses and those with her in the backline trust her leadership.

It also helps that Rachel Corsie is with Sauerbrunn in that center back position. Corsie, who captains the Scottish National Team, leads the league in passes with 520. While Sauerbrunn takes command of the backline and stays back when necessary, it allows for Corsie to distribute passes to the midfielders.

And that’s it for this first edition of Soapbox Mailbag: Utah Royals FC Edition!