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Season two begins: Utah Royals FC open the 2019 NWSL season vs. Washington Spirit

Utah Royals FC are set to host Washington Spirit at Rio Tinto Stadium, and so, we preview the upcoming home opener.

Cindy Lara | RSL Soapbox

It’s here. Officially. We waited. We saw winter come and go, and another season for Utah Royals FC has arrived. For Laura Harvey and the club, this is the year to prove that Utah Royals can stay in contention. It’s a make-a-statement sort of year. Last year, Utah came so close to making the playoffs, but injuries, offensive struggles, and adaptation stopped URFC from that goal.

2019 is different. It feels different. We’re past the excitement of a new club. There’s familiarity now with the players, the club, and Laura Harvey. Utah knows now that there is an NWSL team in town. There is simply anticipation for another year. A source at the club said they are expecting between 17,000-18,000 fans on Saturday vs. Washington Spirit.

Are you ready for it? *cue Taylor Swift’s ‘Are You Ready For It?’

Scouting Washington

Washington may have one advantage over Utah. They have already played one game this season, while Utah enjoyed the bye week. Washington comes to Utah confident with three points after its 2-0 win over Sky Blue FC last week. They have a new coach in Richie Burke, who has the Spirit playing possession style. Just last week they held on to the ball 60.5%.

There’s not only confidence in their style of play, but also on their rookies, Sam Staab and Megan Crosson, who scored Washington’s two goals with assists from Cheyna Mathews (who returned after taking the 2018 season off for maternity leave) and Mallory Pugh (who is a mainstay with the U.S. Women’s National Team). Aubrey Bledsoe recorded her first clean sheet, with two saves.

Washington Injury Report

OUT: Chloe Logarzo (Right Ankle), Mallory Eubanks (MAT), Sammy Jo Prudhomme (Illness)

QUESTIONABLE: None

Scouting Utah Royals FC

Utah Royals FC look to improve their attack for 2019, and that improvement may come with the addition of Verónica Boquete in the attacking midfield position. Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez return to lead the attack, as well as attacking outside back Kelley O’Hara, who looks to be back to full strength after missing much of the 2018 season, and the center-back pairing of Becky Sauerbrunn and Rachel Corsie to lead one of the best defenses in the NWSL.

Utah was never a terrible team in 2018. They remained in the playoff chase until the second to last week of 2018 (so it’s surprising to not see them predicted to finish in the top four for the post-season). There were sparks of brilliance in Utah’s first season, especially against North Carolina Courage, but many times, they found themselves trying to figure out the midfield and the final third, and that comes natural with a new team who spent the 2018 season trying to learn Harvey’s system and build relationships.

Utah Injury Report

OUT: Brittany Ratcliffe (SEI-Left knee), Sydney Miramontez (Right foot), Becca Moros (Left knee), Diana Matheson (Right foot)

QUESTIONABLE: None


Match details

When: Saturday, April 20, 2019 | 7 PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, UT

Weather: 66 degrees & clear skies

Live Stream: KSL, Yahoo Sports app

Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva