It is a tall order for any team in the NWSL this year not to have down games after losing key players to their national teams bit by bit.
The Royals survived losing their United States national team players, but losing the Canadians so soon after, was a breaking point against Houston.
We do have some exciting news on the The Most Noble Order of the Lioness front. But we’ll get to that in due time.
As the official Chief Herald here at RSL Soapbox not all the words I write are ones of celebration. For the first week, I bring you words of consolation.
Let’s begin, shall we?
The Royals need to score more than a goal a game
Four games, four goals. While seeing the first three wins of the season come off 1-0 results was an amusing distraction from the worries of only three goals scored over three games, the chickens came home to roost this game.
While Amy Rodriguez found some chances, as did Katie Stengel, at the end of the day, only one goal resulted from their 90 minutes of play. While it is still early in the year, the team is going to have a rough go if they can’t find the space to score when down in matches. I’m willing to give them another game or two before I sound the alarm bells because of all the players leaving the team for the World Cup, ut my ears are perked up.
Vero Boquete though does seem to be heating up and that could be the best thing for the team as they move forward. But more on her later.
The thin defense is paper thin and about to get thinner
While not a defender, Desiree Scott has been a huge force in the middle of the park and at times playing nearly as a third center back. She has been a key player for the team in each three of the first matches.
This week, she was gone and, oh boy, did the defense, already thin, show just how key she has been.
In her preview for the match, Cindy Lara said it well, “Basically, Scott has been bossing the midfield, particularly the defensive mid. Scott played all 270 minutes of the games she started, completed 82.9% of her passes, with an 83.3% success rate on tackles, six clearances, and six interceptions.”
With Rachel Corsie leaving soon to go captain Scotland to their first World Cup berth, the defense is going to be hurting ever more.
I do have to give Michelle Maemone a call out for her wonderful play. The rookie is showing off her skills and is becoming a huge player on that backline.
The league needs to stop the overly physical play
Officially, there were 20 fouls this match. Unofficially, there were another 15 or 20 that seemed to escape the officials attention.
It’s odd to say that a match that had five cards, one of them being a straight red, was under-called in terms of physicality, but it sure felt like it as I watched. Both Utah and the Dash got away with some rather physical plays that left players limping for minutes at a time.
I am not one to call for any contact to be called, but I am someone who believes fouls should be called and the standards tightened up. Someone will get hurt if the current levels keep up. PRO and the NWSL need to protect the players and teach them with the professionalism they deserve.
The Most Noble Order of the Lioness
Now that we have gotten all the heaviness out of our systems, let us all take a moment to turn to the good in the game and a first here for the Most Noble Order of the Lioness.
For the very first time the Order has their first Companion!
Vero Boquete was nothing short of a maestro in her caving apart of the Dash during the goal Utah scored. For most of the match, the Dash didn’t have an answer for her other than giving her a hard challenge and trying to keep the ball as far from her as they could.
So arise Vero Boquete, Companion of the Order of the Lioness. You have been a revelation this year for the Utah Royals. May your skills only sharpen, may your crosses float in true, may your goals by glorious.
That leaves Desiree Scott and Christen Press needing one more nomination to become a Companion.