We all wanted a perfect week, but it wasn’t meant to be. Here’s what we learned from Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Seattle Reign FC.
It was hot
It’s the reality of where the league and its television coverage are at right now, but midday kickoffs are brutal. Temperatures in excess of 100 °F and the smoke-filled Utah skies made for an uncomfortable experience for players and fans alike. Though the Real Salt Lake match later that night would have made a Utah Royals FC match take place early in the day anyways, it’s still a problem asking outdoor professional sports to happen in the middle of the worst of the summer heat.
The Royals spent much of the match trying to deal with the strong pressing style of Seattle’s talented midfield, and staying back defensively to avoid being exposed on the counter by their forwards. For an offense that already struggles to connect passes to generate scoring chances, it hurt them on this day that they were reluctant to send the ball into the attacking third for fear of being caught in possession. It’s an issue that doesn’t necessarily have an easy answer, but one that the team will have to work on going forward.
It doesn’t completely derail their postseason chances, but it makes the final three matches that much more important. Travelling to play Sky Blue FC, who doesn’t have much left to lose this year, and a Washington team that already knows it can compete well against the Royals from this past Wednesday, won’t be an easy task. To make the final match of the year at the RioT meaningful they need to come away with two big wins on the road. They know what’s at stake, now it’s up to them to go get it.
Here’s a gif of Megan Rapinoe during the match Saturday: