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The Royal Watch: Preseason, O’Hara’s injury, & another international disruption

It’s another edition of The Royal Watch.

Bianca Verar | VAVEL USA

Finally. After months of waiting. Preseason arrived, and now we’re entering week four. Utah Royals FC trained for 10 days in Herriman, and then spent a week in sunny California, picking up two wins against their preseason opponents, California State University-Long Beach and University of Southern California (USC). Laura Harvey was able to take a full squad that included Becky Sauerbrunn, Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez, Katie Bowen, and Vero Boquete, to name a few.

The team is now back in Utah, continuing its preparation for the start of the 2019 NWSL season, which starts April 20, a week after the official start of April 13 since Utah has a bye that first week.

Preseason games were not streamed, by the way, but the club provided a highlight reel of the game vs. USC.

Preseason is really just a time to boost some confidence, I think, and obviously prepare for the upcoming season. In total, 30 players are a part of the 2019 preseason roster. We’ll obviously expect the roster size to decrease as the season nears. The roster size for the season is a minimum of 20 players and a maximum of 22 players.

Kelley O’Hara suffers setback

Just as Kelley O’Hara was on the road of recovery after ankle surgery, back to playing, she suffered a setback that held her from being called up to the U.S. Women National Team friendlies in April. U.S. Soccer nor Utah Royals FC provided details, only that she was not available for roster selection due to an ankle issue.

It could be that she tweaked her ankle enough to keep her out of the friendlies as a precaution. With the World Cup near, and O’Hara expected to make that roster, it would be non-sensical to call her in for two friendlies. But also, I’d expect that O’Hara would want to play in the season home opener on April 20 and be fully ready for the World Cup and opted to recover further than risk the injury. Again, with the World Cup and NWSL season to think about, this was a smart move.

Unfortunately, it does appear that O’Hara cannot catch a break with injuries. Last season, she was hampered by a hamstring injury that sidelined her from May to August. Hopefully, this is the last of injury issues, and O’Hara is able to be 100% for both club and country.

Another international break is upon us

Seems like only yesterday we were talking about how the internationals were away with their national teams, and they returned, and all was well again. Welp. That lasted two weeks. Another international break is coming. Becky Sauerbrunn, Christen Press, Gunny Jonsdottir, Rachel Corsie, Katie Bowen and likely Diana Matheson and Desiree Scott will be with their national teams as the preseason wraps up.

By now, we’re used to the disruptions that these international breaks bring us, and with the World Cup happening in June, we’re just going to have to get used to it. All international players should return in time for the start of the season, by the way. However, they will not stick around for long, three weeks, at the most, and that’s just the way the cookie will crumble this year.