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The Salt: Utah Royals’ season ends, refereeing, and more

Royals have ended 2018 outside of the playoffs, but it’s a big win for Utah all the same.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox


I know you’ve been here before, but we’re going to take a different approach to The Salt this week. And by “we’re,” I mean “I’m,” because I’m just one person, at least until cloning is legalized and technically possible.

And by “different approach,” I really just mean that I’m going to turn my attention a little more inward than outward — not on myself, mind. I don’t have any desire to do that. But inward in terms of our fine site and staff. Let’s just get on with it.

Cindy Lara | RSL Soapbox

Utah Royals and RSL Soapbox

So while I’d love to talk in some depth about Utah Royals and why they didn’t make the playoffs — all that — I’m not sure I can speak adequately to the reasons. I will leave that to the experts here, because there are quite a few. You’re better off reading Cindy’s Royal Watch post that drops every week.

I can speak to the coverage of Utah Royals here on RSL Soapbox, which absolutely deserves some recognition.

In brief, I’ve just been consistently impressed by the staff here producing Royals coverage. Cindy Lara, who you’ll know as our Utah Royals editor, has organized everybody with expertise and commitment. Her dedication there has enabled us to have what I think is a top-tier offering.

Cindy has been joined by a bunch of passionate writers and podcasters. You’ll know them from their bylines and their voices: Ryan Kelly, Wirtjo Leonard, Lucas Muller, Jerrad Pullum, and Megan Webb, all of whom have taken on the difficult task of consistency with aplomb. Others have joined them on a less frequent basis.

Expect our coverage to continue well into the offseason. There’ll be plenty for you to read.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Utah Royals and 2019

When Dell Loy Hansen brought an NWSL franchise to Salt Lake, it was with just a short time to get everything ready. That included a coaching staff, players, administration — everything. Now, they had some efficiencies they were able to gain through Real Salt Lake, and that’s why it worked in the first place.

But come 2019, I’m looking forward to seeing a team that has established its own identity, not on the field, but in the running of it. Utah Royals should exist alongside, not underneath, RSL, and Hansen’s talk has reflected that. I’d like to see that executed.

But at the same time, I’d also love to see Laura Harvey on the bench with Real Salt Lake in preseason, given the NWSL season starts later than the MLS season. I really think there’s a lot Mike Petke can learn from her, and I’m sure there are things she can learn from Petke.

In other words, I actually don’t really know. I guess I want their identity to be separate, but I want them to be just as much a part of the family as any other team under the umbrella.

Video referees

Sam Stejskal, who reports for MLS and was a former press person at Real Salt Lake, had a very interesting interview last week with Howard Webb and Jeff Agoos. I’d urge you to read it.

Anyway, I didn’t have too much to say about it, other than to say that I think VAR has been rolled out pretty terribly. It’s hard in professional sports to take a “fail fast” approach, simply because rules aren’t particularly malleable within the context of one season of competition. It becomes important to get things more or less right the first time, and whether they did or didn’t is certainly up for debate.

Here’s one great section from the piece:

He’d also like to improve how Video Review decisions are communicated to fans and media. He said the league would like to test in-stadium referee announcements to explain reviews before and after they’re conducted.

I can’t say enough about how good an idea I think this is. It’s a very good idea.

Anyway, just think about it, I guess.

Off topic

I’ve been playing Now Boarding, which I actually talked about last week, too. But it’s a fun cooperative game with some real tension and difficulty, so I’m happy to continue playing it until we win. It’s a nice one.

I’ve also been playing several of Uwe Rosenberg’s worker placement games — solo. That’s partly so I can snap some photos of them for my board games Instagram account, but it’s also because they’re worth exploring more. In the last week, I played Caverna and Le Havre.

I’ve been watching Ozark, and I think I’ve spent most of my time watching either a) playing a board game, or b) looking for an Arrested Development reference. At any rate, it’s been an interesting watch — sometimes, I think it leans a little too hard into the Breaking Bad idea, and I’d like it to exist a little more on its own.