There’s the Utah Royals FC team we know and love! Despite the tough start and falling behind a goal, the ladies in white fought to earn a much-needed three points. Here’s what we learned from the victory in Houston.
Earning your spot
Though I personally feel every team should treat every game like a “must-win,” these last six matches are critical for the Royals to perform well in if they want to participate in the postseason. Beating the Dash moves the team into sixth place, and looking ahead to this week there’s a good chance to win at home against Washington, and then a Saturday match with Seattle, while Chicago is playing North Carolina and Orlando faces Portland. The opportunity is there for a big move up the standings if they take care of their own results.
Since her arrival in Utah, Christen Press has most often been deployed as a winger rather than as the central striker. The number nine is a congested spot on the Royals roster, with Press, Katie Stengel and Amy Rodriguez all needing minutes on the field. It may be time for Laura Harvey to consider a full time shift to a 4-4-2 formation, using Press as the target striker, and Rodriguez or Stengel in support with a full midfield behind them. Though teams more often play with three forwards these days, having four in the midfield could help the team be more consistent in connecting passes ahead to the forwards for chances to score.
Best foot forward
Despite falling behind on a great header from Veronica Latsko that Nicole Barnhart just didn’t quite get enough of her arm on, the Golden Lionesses fought hard and gave themselves a chance to win. The awareness of Press to take advantage of some casual defending gave her a great opportunity to equalize, and the vision of Erika Tymrak to scoop a pass to Stengel for the winner was beautiful to watch. There are three very winnable matches left for URFC, two against the Spirit and one more against Sky Blue FC. Without making and assumptions, the path to the playoffs is looking brighter after this win. Not the team has to step up and claim their place.