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The Royal Watch: Off-season begins, favorite URFC fan moments, & random bits

It’s your weekly Utah Royals FC update!

Cindy Lara | RSL Soapbox

It’s your weekly edition of The Royal Watch, a one-stop column for updates on Utah Royals FC.

We’re officially in the off-season, for the Royals, at least. The NWSL post-season continues with Portland Thorns FC vs. Seattle Reign FC and Chicago Red Stars vs. North Carolina Courage. The two winners of those semi-finals will meet in the NWSL Championship on Saturday, September 22 in Portland. Even if Utah is not in the post-season, these two games are worth watching, especially to continue supporting the league.

Seattle @ Portland is on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT on Lifetime, and Chicago vs. North Carolina in Portland (due to Hurricane Florence causing a change in location) is on Tuesday at 7 p.m. MT on ESPNews.

And now that we’re in the off-season, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the news. I expect announcements of re-signings sometime in October. We will begin to learn who stays and who moves on, sadly. It’s a long off-season, that’s for sure, but March will be here before we know it.

And ICYMI, a few of us here at Soapbox took part in a roundtable, considering whether the Utah Royals’ debut season was a success. We all agreed that it was. Check out our thoughts behind our consensus here.

Also, early this week, my fellow RSL Soapbox writer, Megan Webb, listed the top memorable moments of the season, and I posted on Twitter that same article, asking URFC fans their favorite moment from the season.

Here are some highlights:

My favorite:

I was sitting on the endline at the RioT, near the Portland goal, taking photos during the Portland game on April 28. It was 0-0 in the second half, with both teams aiming to get that first goal. There was some urgency, especially for Utah to get their first goal of the season at home.

Suddenly, as I’m sitting on the grass, hoping a goal happens soon, in the 53rd minute, Amy Rodriguez makes an epic run past the Portland defense for a through ball. She then gets past the goalkeeper and a defender before putting away her first goal of the season and first URFC goal at Rio Tinto Stadium.

A-Rod’s celebration is what stands out the most, running towards her teammates, her fist raised up as she was picked up. You could tell how much that goal meant to her after missing the 2017 season with an ACL injury. She made the comeback for 2018, and that goal and celebration defined it.

Cindy Lara | RSL Soapbox

Random bits

  • Utah Royals finished the season with a 9,466 attendance average, second in the league. Though impressive, I would love to see Rio Tinto bit more full next season, rival even what Portland has going on over there.
  • Non-Royal bit here: Much talk within NWSL Media this week surrounded the impact of Hurricane Florence hitting North Carolina this weekend, including the semi-final game between North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars, and how the game needed to be moved. It was finally moved, unfortunately for the Courage who had a stellar season to win home field advantage. I don’t think it should have been a matter of “monitoring the situation,” especially when the storm has been described as “life-threatening.” Bottom line: the league should have moved the game earlier in the week, and not wait 72 hours before kickoff to make an announcement.
  • Will RSL make the playoffs?