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Get to know your Utah Royals FC Soapbox contributors, Part 1

Get to know Cindy Lara, Wirtjo Leonard, Stockton Maier, and Megan Webb.

RSL Soapbox

We’re stoked for the second season of Utah Royals FC, and here at RSL Soapbox, we have a team of dedicated contributors ready to bring you the best coverage this season. Myself along with Lucas Muller, Wirtjo Leonard, Ryan Kelly, and Megan Webb return from last year. We also added three new contributors in the offseason: RJ Allen, Stockton Mair, and Ian Knighton. RJ is a member of the NWSL Media Association, and Stockton is a huge Brittany Ratcliffe fan. Ian actually argued with Sam Kerr on Twitter.

In preparation for the upcoming season, some of the contributors wanted to tell you a little bit about themselves, including reason we stand behind Utah Royals FC, favorite player, and thoughts on the upcoming season.

Cindy Lara - Editor for Utah Royals FC content

Twitter: @cinderL9 | Instagram: @cindy.lara.photos

Why do you support Utah Royals FC?

I was a fan of FC Kansas City since 2015, so when the team moved to Utah, as heartbreaking as it was to lose the team I was able to go see and support, it only made sense that I would continue to support the players, especially when a major core of that Kansas City team became a part of the Utah team.

Favorite player to watch and why?

Becky Sauerbrunn. She is, in my opinion, the best defender in the world and such a smart player. I love how she is able to read the field and position herself to defend so well.

Thoughts on the upcoming season?

I know people are worried about the World Cup, especially how Utah will lose seven of its core players (Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press, Rachel Corsie, Katie Bowen, Desiree Scott, Diana Matheson). But even with those players gone, Utah will still have Vero Boquete, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Smith, Gunny Jonsdottir, Sam Johnson, Lo LaBonta, to name a few. I think Utah will be just fine even with those players with their national teams and will likely remain in the top four of the standings. Laura Harvey is a smart coach, and we can be sure that she has prepped for year two.

Wirtjo Leonard - Utah Royals FC Show / Contributor

Twitter: @wirtjogets2yell| Instagram: @wirtjolikescats

Why do you support Utah Royals FC?

I love soccer, it is called the beautiful game for a reason. I love community, and soccer itself is something which transcends community including gender, race, nationality, and all other binaries. Our community is no different. It’s something special. Being a part of RSL Soapbox, I am continually surrounded by wonderful individuals who share this similar passion and goals for equality. It also doesn’t hurt that listeners, readers, and occasionally fellow Soapbox staff foolishly believe my opinions to be rational. I think equality and social justice are the future, and sports are an axis for something which spills over into other aspects of society. To be a part of the Utah Royals FC community is to be part of something beautiful, which will be a core part of the community for generations to come. The best athletes in the world are right here in our backyard. Why would anyone not want to be a witness to that?

Favorite player to watch and why?

I am a big proponent of what Erika Tymrak and Lo’eau LaBonta can do with the ball, despite neither playing a consistent starting role. That said, I am incredibly excited about Verónica Boquete, and what we are going to see this year. Be excited, be very excited.

Thoughts on the upcoming season?

While I agree that performance during the World Cup will play a crucial part this season, a first trip to the post-season for Utah Royals FC will be decided by the tone that is set in the first four games against the Washington Spirit, my predicted NWSL Champion winners Chicago Red Stars, and a competitive Houston. While I believe that this season will be an improvement upon the inaugural one, two things need to happen. One, defensive consistency will be needed with the absence of Sauerbrunn, O’Hara, Corsie, and Bowen. Two, an improvement upon the dangerous connection between the upper midfield and the attacking front.

Stockton Mair- Royals Contributor

Twitter: @RulersPhilly | Instagram: @rslfan_01

Why do you support Utah Royals FC?

Unfortunately, I didn’t know about Real Salt Lake when it was first introduced as a team to Major League Soccer, so I didn’t get to experience it from the beginning. I heard about the Real Monarchs, but I wasn’t interested at the time. When the Royals were announced, they caught my attention. First, it was a great opportunity to be a part of something from the beginning. And second, the NWSL needs the support with being a small league. I’m a proud season ticket holder and can’t wait to see how this team performs this year and beyond.

Favorite player to watch and why?

As it was mentioned above, my favorite player is Brittany Ratcliffe. She had some highlight plays, like the game-winning goal against North Carolina Courage. If I had to choose another player, it would be Lo LaBonta. Last year, she got more playing time as the season went on, and proved that she deserved to be on the pitch. She has a lot of fight and that’s something Utah needs.

Thoughts on the upcoming season?

I’m excited. The offseason has been long, but we’re almost there. Just a couple more weeks until we’ll be filling up the RioT cheering the team on. With what will likely be seven players heading off to the world cup, we’ll be seeing our depth players quite often this year, which will allow us to see just how good the roster is. It’ll allow for those who didn’t get much playing time last year to prove to the coaching staff that they deserve more time on the pitch. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Megan Webb - Utah Royals FC Show / Royals Contributor

Twitter: @meganrsl15 | Instagram: @meganrsl

Why do you support Utah Royals FC?

I support URFC because, honestly, I just love soccer. When this team was announced to be moving to Utah, I knew it was going to be something special. I joined RSL Soapbox just a matter of weeks before this team was announced and was hoping to be able to use this site to promote URFC to the next level. These women deserve all the attention and respect in the world, and I wanted to do what I could to be a part of that. I guess in short, I support URFC because they deserve to be supported.

Favorite player to watch and why?

This question is my biggest fear. I want to say all of them because it is true, but if I have to pick I guess I will. For me, it’s always been Becky Sauerbrunn. She is my favorite soccer player of all time, and I’ve always had the utmost respect for her. However, I also have to give a shout to Katie Stengel. Stengel is one of my favorites on URFC these days. Something about her drive on the pitch and her physicality is awesome to me. Katie Stengel is just really cool. Stengel and Sauerbrunn are my favorites right now.

Thoughts on the upcoming season?

I’m ecstatic for this upcoming season. This season is bound to be incredible. World Cup aside, we get to see a URFC we’ve never seen before. Since URFC was announced, the excitement has largely been put around the international players. Although warranted, I think this season teams will have to lean on the league’s stars and those who are staying behind from the World Cup festivities, and that is exciting to me. I’m most excited for that this season, to see who rises to the challenge of losing 1⁄4 of the roster to World Cup teams.