It’s the first edition of The Royal Watch, where we provide weekly updates to moments, news, events, and happenings surrounding Utah Royals FC.
Seems like forever ago that the Royals played a game, but let’s go back to July 20th at Rio Tinto Stadium for a bit.
How about that Rachel Corsie Save of the Week?
In the 87th minute, the Royals were in the final third, trying to win the game. Unfortunately, Erika Tymrak gave the ball away and North Carolina Courage countered, sending it right to Lynn Williams, who cranked up the speed and zoomed past Sam Johnson. It looked like the game winner as only Nicole Barnhart was the last hope to save the shot. But, out of nowhere, to save the day, came Rachel Corsie. In the last effort stop, Corsie slid into the 18 to block the shot just as Williams blasted the ball towards the goal. The crowd went wild, Barnhart bumped fists with Corsie, Katie Bowen gave her a hug, and Gunny Jónsdóttir came and said something, probably along the line of “Whoaaa! That was wicked!” And it was, earning Corsie the NWSL Save of the Week for the second week in a row.
Tournament of Nations is happening
Now the reason for why we have not seen Utah Royals FC play since July 20th: the Tournament of Nations, a four-team tournament featuring the U.S. Women’s National Team, Australia, Brazil, and Japan, with each team participating in three doubleheader events at three different cities (Kansas City, Hartford, Chicago) over an eight-day period (July 26-August 2).
Four Utah Royals FC players are taking part this year: Christen Press, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Amy Rodriguez for the USA and Katrina Gorry for Australia. Press, Sauerbrunn, and Gorry have all played in the tournament. Rodriguez, however, has yet to see minutes. Hmm. Coach Ellis, please let A-Rod play.
Thursday in Chicago is the last set of games where the USWNT, Brazil, and Australia hope to be crowned this year’s winners. It may be a friendly tournament, but this is a highly-competitive event with four of the best teams in the world, and winning will give a team a boost of confidence with the World Cup less than a year away.
Reality: 2018 NWSL season is winding down
Yup. When games resume this weekend, the Royals will have six games left for the season, three at the RioT and three away. It’s a point in the season where every game starts to count. The Royals are in 7th place with 22 points. Now, it may seem that 7th place puts the team in trouble, but really, they’re still in contention. The teams ahead of them are Houston Dash (6th place, 23 points), Chicago Red Stars (5th place, 28 points), Orlando Pride (4th place, 29 points), and Portland Thorns (3rd place, 29 points), and Utah still has a chance to catch up in the pack.
The good news: Utah has a relatively easy schedule, having played tougher teams like North Carolina, Orlando, Portland the three times this season.
The bad news: The Royals still have one more game against Seattle Reign FC and Chicago, two teams ahead of them in the standings, and they can’t really do anything about the games the other teams ahead of them play, except hope that they lose those games.
So, basically, if the Royals want to make the post-season, losing is out of the question.
- When will Kelley O’Hara return? Last I heard, she was shooting for an August return date. O’Hara is practicing with the squad again, so that’s good news. Don’t expect her to fully return this coming weekend, though. The team will not want to rush her back.
- With three home games left at the RioT this season, why wouldn’t you go to a game?
- With the Tournament of Nations ending on Thursday, will the four internationals play in Houston? Hope so! Royals will need to be at full strength.