The Pacific Northwest of the United States is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, but recently has also been home to struggles for Utah Royals FC. Here’s what we learned from Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Seattle Reign FC.
While the teams were pretty even in shots taken, the Royals were unable to get any of the 10 they took on frame. That’s a bad sign for a team that has Amy Rodriguez and Christen Press on the forward line. Press, in particular, struggled to get touches and was dropped back into the midfield looking to find time on the ball. Credit Seattle’s defense for learning from Press’ first match with URFC and making it hard for their guests to connect with their dangerous players.
One off moment
Rapinoe’s game-winner was a well placed header, but most glaring on the play were the three URFC defenders who were looking at the unmarked far post. As Utah soccer fans have seen recently with Jefferson Savarino’s two goal-line clearances, the importance of having a player on both goalposts during setpieces cannot be understated. Just one could have been enough to at least have a chance to clear the Reign forward’s shot, rather than watching helplessly as it hit the back of the goal.
Looking for improvement
This could be a section about the team itself, but I’m focusing more on the state of the league itself. The attendance for last night’s match was around 3,200, which is about half of the available seating for a Reign match, and their lowest home attendance of the season. They only use half the seats in the very old and run-down Memorial Stadium, which made the support for the team look pretty bad.
Add in the well-used Astro Turf surface with the high school football markings visible, a scoreboard that is so old it stopped working, and the fact that it was recommended by the local school district that operates the facility that it be torn down in 2009, it’s frustrating that professional athletes are asked to play in those conditions. Certainly a city like Seattle with its strong soccer history can offer more to their women’s team, an issue that isn’t unique to the Reign among NWSL clubs.