As the official Chief Herald here at RSL Soapbox for the Utah Royals FC, it is my honor to welcome you all back to our noble court.
The tankards of wine are full; the roast beast has been lovingly roasted on open flames, and I am ready to regal you all with tails of dragons’ slayed. After these tails, make sure you stay tuned to see who is being nominated to the Most Noble Order of the Lioness as the best player of the week.
Just a reminder for one and all, after two nominations, the player is officially granted the status as a Companion in the Order. Anyone winning six over the course of the season will become a Commander of the Order.
Let’s begin, shall we?
The USWNT giveth and the USWNT taketh away
Through the first two games this season, Christen Press has been a woman on fire. Her play has been different than some of her past roles where she hung out on top and made runs into the box. She has been dropping back, outpacing midfielders and making all who stand in her way pay for it. Against Orlando, we were able to see what happened when a team had no answer for her. Press was able to run for what felt like miles in the space she was given, and that first touch on her goal is what attackers dream of and the stuff of defender nightmares.
On the other side of the ball, Becky Sauerbrunn has been the leader on the backline in a way she seems to always find herself being. Steady and quick witted, she did more than enough with the first two games to remind us all that a team with Sauerbrunn is always better than a team without her.
And they are no more for the Royals for the next two or so months, and I think that’s ok. Through the first two matches of the year the two national teamers have lead the way, O’Hara chipping in as she returns to full fitness, but the rest of the team seems to be coming alive.
The Royals have gotten miles out of Press and her runs and Sauerbrunn and her defensive skills. Now it’s time to see what the rest can do in their absence.
It takes a village to win a soccer game, or maybe just a pride of lions
When a match ends 1-0, it is easy to look at the goal scorer as the difference maker in the match, and Christen Press surely did have herself a heck of a game.
But Vero, Desi Scott, Rachel Corsie and Nicole Barnhart and even Amy Rodriguez turned in pretty solid matches. The team is playing like a team. It’s not two or three super stars dragging everyone towards a win here and there. It is early in the year, but the connective tissue around the bones of the team is starting to form.
The Royals are at their best when everyone is playing well and well together as opposed to having a few play out of their minds, and everyone else playing so so. While things will change as the national teamers leave to go to the World Cup in France, the team seems more sure of itself than ever.
Harvey testing the Subbing Waters, and is Navigating Well
Early in the season, subbing players is always a hard bet. No one is in their midseason form. Often there is a sense to more randomness to the patterns, and players haven’t meshed in the way we all hope they do later in the year.
All of that being said, Harvey, against Orlando, seemed to find a nice mix between giving players some rest, getting players that are going to be key some time ,and trying out interesting things. In the 46’, Katie Stengel came in for Michelle Maemone; the 57’ saw Kelley O’Hara come in for Lo’Eau Labonta, and finally in the 77’, it was Erika Tymrak for Amy Rodriguez.
Stengel and Tymrak are going to, we all hope, be key members of the team as O’Hara, Press and Sauerbrunn head off to France to try and add another star over the USWNT crest. Having them get some minutes now is a good way to ease them into the pool without grabbing them by the neck and tossing them into the deep end. O’Hara seeing time gives both her and the rest of us a little peak into her form before she heads off for a few months.
While none of the subs ended up on the score sheet, they each brought a new spark to the match.
The Most Noble Order of the Lioness
This week was one of those weeks where I was planning out who I may put up for the Most Noble Order of the Lioness, and one name leaped off the page and smacked me around.
This week, the honor of nomination goes to Christen Press. Not only for the goal, which was spectacular, but for her willingness to move in and out of the midfield and even go back on defense when Orlando had a few set pieces and runs. She was a leader on the pitch for the first two matches and really gave us reason to be excited for what may come.
That leaves both Christen Press and Desiree Scott needing one more nomination to become a Companion in the Most Noble Order of the Lioness.
Please join us Friday as Utah Royals FC take on the Chicago Red Stars at the RioT. The last time the two squared off, Utah won 2-1.