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The Royal Watch: The final regular season game, international break update, looking ahead

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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'll begin with the ICYMI news, which if you really did miss it, Utah Royals FC will miss the playoffs after the Chicago Red Stars’ major 5-0 victory over Sky Blue FC on Tuesday night. There was a glimmer of hope that Sky Blue could pull a major upset, but deep down, as much as we all wanted it, I think we all knew that it would have taken a miracle.

One final game at the RioT

Just because the Royals will not appear in the postseason this year does not mean that they will not take the final game seriously. At this point, with one game left, the Royals are playing for pride and to wrap up the 2018 season with a win, and who better to do it against than playoff-bound Chicago Red Stars. And better yet, to close out the season at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The Royals had to wait nearly a month after the start of the 2018 season for their home opener, where on April 14, 19,203 fans packed the RioT. I may have to verify this, but I believe the Royals still have the season’s highest attendance. If I’m wrong, you can @ me. The Royals will now finish the season at home, hopefully in front of a big crowd.

And here’s where the Utah/Chicago matchup gets interesting: Chicago wants to win this one, too. Much is on the line for them to determine their final standing. That is, whether they go to North Carolina, Seattle, or Portland for the playoffs. If they lose, they will finish 4th and face the league’s top team, who has been unstoppable all season. If Chicago wins along with a Seattle Reign FC victory against Portland, Chicago finishes 3rd and goes to Seattle.

Dun, Dun, Dun!

Go pack the RioT, everybody!

The internationals return

It’s been two weeks since we last saw the Royals play due to the international break. Some players took time to rest and travel while others joined their respective national teams for friendlies and World Cup qualifying.

  • Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press, and Amy Rodriguez joined the. U.S. Women’s National Team for a pair of friendlies against Chile in California. The games were a no contest, really, as the U.S. dominated. Press celebrated her 100 caps with the national team; O’Hara played in her first U.S. game since March; Sauerbrunn and Rodriguez also saw time on the field.
  • Diana Matheson and Desiree Scott represented Canada’s National Team in a friendly against Brazil in front of 16,128 fans in Ottawa. Canada won 1-0.
  • Rachel Corsie (Scotland) and Elise Thorsnes (Norway) are officially going to the Word Cup! Unfortunately for Gunny Jónsdóttir, Iceland did not qualify.

All international players are back in Salt Lake City and expected to take part in Saturday’s game.

No playoffs this year, but 2019 will be wild!

I know we all really wanted the Royals to make the playoffs in their inaugural season. What a storyline it would have been for a team that came out of nowhere last November after FC Kansas City ceased operations. Alas, this game sometimes just doesn’t go our way.

Still, I think everyone can agree that following this team has been a blast. For me, watching FC Kansas City fold was heartbreaking. This was the team I loved and followed since I discovered there was an NWSL presence in the midwest. But then, I saw the excitement for a new franchise and how the Utah community embraced the team, and I got on board, and thankfully found a spot at RSL Soapbox to cover the Royals.

So, yes, the season is ending, but for a new franchise, to be the last eliminated from playoff contention with days left in the season, well, it showed that this was a good team. Sure, there were struggles, offensively, especially, but these are ones that can get sorted out for 2019.

I hope you’re excited as I am for 2019. Laura Harvey had a pretty disastrous season in 2013 with Seattle Reign FC, going 5-14-3. Then, the next two seasons, the Reign won the Shield for the best regular season record, finishing at the top of the standings.

So...watch out, NWSL cause Laura Harvey learned a few things this season.