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The Royal Watch: NWSL Championship, USWNT World Cup qualifying, Sauerbrunn in Best XI

It’s your weekly Utah Royals FC update!

Cindy Lara | RSL Soapbox

So, this is the offseason, huh?

Well, for Utah Royals FC, at least. The NWSL still has one more game scheduled for the 2018 season tomorrow, culminating with the NWSL Championship between Portland Thorns FC and North Carolina Courage. It’s a rematch from last year’s final, and these two teams have built an intense rivalry, and it’s always a physical matchup.

If this is your first year following the NWSL due to the inclusion of the Royals, you certainly do not want to miss another chapter to the Portland/North Carolina rivalry showcased in the 2018 NWSL Championship. And this game is being played in Portland, since Providence Park was the pre-determined location for this year's championship. It will be a very pro-Portland crowd, and the atmosphere is going to be all about the Thorns. But the Courage are the best team in the NWSL, and should they win, they will cap an impressive season that only saw them lose once. Their only loss was to our very own, Utah Royals FC.

Speaking of Utah Royals FC, here’s the news we kept track of this week.

O’Hara, Sauerbrunn, and Press to rep the red, white, and blue

Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Christen Press were named to the U.S. Women’s National Team 20-player roster for 2018 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Tournament taking place October 4-17 in North Carolina and Texas. The U.S. Women’s National Team will play in Cary, North Carolina on October 4 against Mexico (7:30 p.m. ET), Panama on October 7 (5 p.m. ET), and Trinidad & Tobago on October 10 (7:30 p.m. ET).

The 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship features eight countries, divided into two groups of four. Each group’s top two finishers advance from round-robin play to the semifinals. The two finalists and the winner of the third-place match will qualify directly to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France taking place next summer. The fourth-place finisher will earn a spot in a two-game playoff against Argentina, who finished third in South American qualifying, for a final berth to the tournament.

O’Hara, Sauerbrunn, and Press were members of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team.

Sauerbrunn named to 2018 NWSL Best XI

Utah Royals FC defender Becky Sauerbrunn was named to the Best XI for the 2018 NWSL season. Sauerbrunn played 1,720 minutes in over 20 appearances. She led led a strong URFC defense that allowed the 3rd-fewest goals in 2018. She had 18 blocks, 90 clearances and won 20 tackles, 78 duels, and 49 interceptions. She was also the league’s most efficient passer with a minimum of 400 pass attempts and with 86.23% passing accuracy over 1,046 passes.

This is Sauerbrunn’s sixth straight selection to the Best XI. Her previous selections were when she led the FC Kansas City defense from 2013-2017.

Sauerbrunn is a big-time defender, folks!

Oh, and one more thing, ICYMI:

Until next week! Thanks for reading!